Land is wet: Land is likely to be wet after a lot of rain in November followed by a reasonable amount in December thus far. November was generally wetter than average across much of the country, but drier than average across the middle and in particular in the north Leinster area, as indicated by Met Éireann stations. This has allowed an amount of spraying to be done, especially of oilseed rape, but planting opportunities have most likely passed until well into January.

Crops remain in generally good condition, but the very frequent rain on land that is already wet may soon show patchiness and cause spots to die out if the wet continues.

Protein aid payments: Payments issued last week for the 2020 protein crops – beans and peas. That €215/ha will prove very useful, especially to those whose crops were badly hit by the dryness last spring. For some, the combination of yield, price, and aid may still seem to leave the crop less attractive, but a legume, unlike a cereal, will bring other benefits into the rotation.

Break crops bring a significant additional kick to the yield potential of the following crop. More and more growers are recognising this fact and they have brought legumes permanently into their rotation. However, we must still strive to enhance our knowledge and experience to make all break crops pay every year.

We need a bit more information on the residual nitrogen following legumes and the difference in the residual amount following a good full crop of beans and some of the relatively poor crops we have seen in recent years.

We also await suggestions for the future direction of the CAP from Brussels. This could help make legumes even more attractive, if it enabled the area to tick other boxes for environmental stewardship and payment entitlements.

Essential farm records: While there is nothing that can be done on land for the next few weeks, growers should ensure that all essential and obligatory farm records are done for both 2020 and 2021. Having your fertilisation plan in place in spring will guide decisions on N and P purchases and allowances.

You must have a record of all chemical purchases for each year and where every product was used on a field-by-field basis. This must also include a record of the stocks carried into this season and anything not used should be recorded as closing stock. Each grower is being asked to account for where purchased agrochemicals were used.

Similar records are required for N and P fertilisers. Your allowance for N and P is governed by the crop grown, the area of each crops, soil test results for each field and the proven yield potential of each crop.

Best wishes: As this is our last issue before Christmas, on behalf of Stephen, Siobhán and myself, I want to wish all our readers a happy, healthy and peaceful Christmas.