A heavy shower in Tipperary 10 days ago, with 18mm falling within an hour, has helped crops to grow rapidly with no water stress as of yet. Mark says that rain would still be welcome next week.

The winter wheat received its T2 spray last week at GS39. Aquino (1.8l/ha), Turret 60 (1.2l/ha) and Mirror (1.5l/ha) were applied. Mark says that the septoria has stayed quite low in the crop, and has not progressed to the upper leaves. He is happy with how the two fungicide applications have worked so far, with their job being made easier by the dry weather.

Mark’s winter oats received their last spray in the past couple of days. Elatus Era (1l/ha) was applied in addition to 25l/ha of N16. The oats look very well at present as Mark closes the gate on this crop. The winter barley on the farm looks very good too and is into grain-fill.

The spring beans are just beginning to flower. Signum (0.75kg/ha) and Basfoliar K (1l/ha) were applied on Tuesday. The crop looks very good and is growing very strongly with heat and moisture available to the crop.

Mark has sprayed the first fungicide on to his spring barley this week at the mid-tillering stage. Decoy 250 EC (0.4l/ha) and Comet 200 (0.5l/ha) were applied. Mark is also using Phylgreen 200 to avoid stresses on the crop, which is vital in later-planted spring barley.

Planting of fodder beet and maize was also finished up. Mark says the beet is flying in the fine weather. The beet has received one herbicide spray, with a second to follow soon. We will report on these sprays next month.

Mark is being kept busy with silage and hay-making. There is also some reseeding work planned, but he will wait until there is rain in the forecast to do this.

The weather has remained very dry in Carlow over the past few weeks, with the ground drying out a lot. However, Jack says that his crops are not suffering any ill effects while other local crops are starting to show the stress.

Jack puts this down to the benefits of his organic minimum tillage system in conserving water in the soil.

Jack has been busy weeding his spring oats and wheat crops. He says that while there was some weed pressure in the crops, the weeding worked quite well.

He is still trying to figure out the best way to get a good kill without doing too much damage to the crop. He thinks he could have used his harrow more aggressively to kill weeds as there has been little damage to the crop and it bounced back very well afterwards.

Weeding organic crops on Jack's farm.

The crops were flat rolled after drilling. Jack thinks that a ring roller may have been more beneficial, as it would allow the soil to be moved more easily during weeding. This was not helped by the recent dry weather, with the flat rolled ground becoming very hard and difficult to disturb.

Jack also hopes that these passes help the crops to tiller and break apical dominance.

He will pass through them a couple more times in the next two weeks before they are too far into stem extension. Once he has finished the weeding, he will apply a fully organic spray of seaweed extract, boron, and manganese.

Multispecies sward

Jack cut some of his multispecies sward for haylage three weeks ago. This was cut to 10cm with topping skids as he does not want to cut lower than the growing point of the chicory and plantain, which would kill the plants.

Aside from this, the agroforestry trees are beginning to flower, as are the biodiversity strips on the farm.

The heavy clay soils of north Dublin have transformed from “too wet to too dry too quickly”, according to Tony.

Most of his crops are not under stress yet due to good water conservation in his strip till system. However, he is seeing soil capping occur on his maize crops where they were drilled with some moisture still in the soil. Despite this, the maize is emerging very well.

Tony finished planting maize last week, and the earlier crops are at the two-leaf stage.

Tony attached his maize drill on to the back of his strip till so that all cultivation could be carried out in the one pass. This worked very well. He also replaced the smooth closing wheels on the planter with spiked versions.

This created more tilth and greater seed to soil contact as it broke up the soil more.

Tony was very impressed with the seed placement of his new drill, with little to no misses or grouping of seeds. He hopes this will help to promote uniform growth and larger cobs.

Strip-till maize being planted on Tony's farm.

Tony’s winter wheat received its T2 spray last week.

Revystar XL (1.25l/ha), a seaweed extract (1l/ha), Optiplant Cereal (1l/ha), and amino acids (1l/ha) were in the mix, 20l/ha of N16 was also applied.

Tony says that the wheat is looking much better now than a few weeks ago.

It headed out very quickly last week with the warm weather.

The spring beans received their first spray last week at the beginning of flowering. It received 5l/ha of Pulsar, 1l/ha of phosphite, and 1l/ha of Optiplant legume.

Trace elements

These products provide a broad range of trace elements to promote a healthy crop, and phosphite can also help to fight downy mildew.

Tony says the beans are exceptionally clean and are growing very strongly in the warm weather.

However, some areas of the crop did not survive the wet weather earlier in the year.

There may have been some compaction in the soil from spreading mushroom compost pre-drilling.