It’s probably been the strangest year for a while regarding grass growth.
At the beginning of May, we had some strong growth, but showers were hampering mowing of silage or surplus paddocks.
With May just finished, ground conditions have turned too dry in some parts of the country.
It’s early to be talking about growth being restricted by lack of rainfall; this is usually a late June or early July issue.
Soil temperatures are running anywhere from 1°C to 6.4°C above average, with sunshine levels over 200% of normal in some parts of the country.
Teagasc is predicting growth for the week ahead to be 20% back on the week previous and even this is very farm-specific.
The best way to maintain growth levels on farm is to ensure farm cover doesn’t dip too low, with the normal threshold being 500kg to 550kg DM/ha of an average farm cover.
Maintaining this is important for a number of reasons.
Firstly, you need to hold cover on farm to maintain growth. Grass depends on leaf cover to photosynthesise and grow, so it’s easy to see why growth will be impeded by a low farm cover.
Secondly, a lower farm cover means a lower range of grass covers across paddocks.
With a farm cover below 500kg DM/ha, next to no cover will be above 1,000kg, and when growth does come, a lot of covers are going to come back all at once, meaning you could be feeding silage one week and mowing out paddocks the next.
We’re better accustomed to dealing with droughts now and most farmers know the above information.
While growth is back, it had been very good and a lot of farms in the south are still ok.
In the northwest, the heat and sunshine is suiting a lot of farms and good-quality silage and surplus bales have been made.
The lack of rain is set to continue for at least another seven days - after this, we would be hopeful of some reprieve.