Barty is waiting patiently in Wexford for his winter barley to be ready to harvest, and expects the crop to be ripe in the next few days.

There are still some green heads in the tramlines and the earliness of the crop may not be a good sign.

However, the crop is still standing and there is no straw breakdown yet.

Big square bales will be made from the winter barley straw, so Barty is hoping for a few good drying days after harvest to ensure the straw is fit.

He has some of his spring barley straw in the Straw Incorporation Measure, but he is thinking of withdrawing this considering the predicted higher straw demand.

However, Barty says that he has not seen this high demand just yet.

The spring barley received its final fungicide three weeks ago. This tank mix contained Imperis XE at 1l/ha, Revycare at 1l/ha, Arizona at 1.25l/ha, and Epso Combitop at 5kg/ha. The crop has now headed out and flowered. It has recovered well from the BYDV and compaction stress it faced at the start of June in the harsh weather.

Growth stages

The cooler and wetter weather has suited it recently and has allowed the crop to thicken and move slowly through the growth stages.

The diaphragms in Barty’s sprayer pump failed last month while the pressure was on to get crops sprayed. He says he was very lucky to have his local parts supplier close by who collected his sprayer pump after a phone call at 5.30pm one evening and Barty was back spraying by 12.30pm the following afternoon.

Barty has his sheds cleaned out and his trailers washed and is waiting for the barley now. He is also working on his ACRES environmental management of arable fallow land, and will plant a cover crop in the next few weeks.

A very close eye is being kept on the weather in Galway as Conall is hoping to be harvesting winter barley before the weekend arrives.

The crop looks quite good and he is hopeful of a good yield. All straw will be baled this year for all crops except for a few grassy headlands.

Conall says there is a very strong demand for straw in his area, with prices of €30 to €35 per 4x4 bale ex field very common. He has already sold his bean straw at a good price.

The winter oats are just beginning to change colour. Conall is happy to see it all still standing after applying plant growth regulators at three different timings this year after a lot of his oats lodged last year.

The spring beans look quite good and have just finished flowering. Conall says there is high black bean aphid pressure, but he is not going to apply an aphicide.

The spring barley is promising considering the delayed planting. Some pockets have started to lodge in the early April sown crop which Conall is taking as a good sign.

The spring oats received its final fungicide of Elatus Era at 0.8l/ha along with some foliar potassium. Panicles are now emerging on the crop, but Conall says it is thinner than he would like. He is hoping the panicle and grain size can compensate for this.

Conall's winter barley after beans stayed green for much longer and is well behind what is just about to be harvested.

There is also high deer pressure in one field where they are eating the entire panicles off the plants.

Away from the crops, Conall is busy spreading slurry, baling silage, and reseeding. Many slurry tanks are still full from the winter as ground was too wet in spring to spread slurry. He has made over 8,000 bales of silage so far this year and says that crops are light.

As a result of this, many farmers are now planting fodder rape and kale. Ground conditions have improved and heavy, wet land has finally dried out quite well.

Kind weather is needed in Derry to bring winter crops safely to harvest and to help spring crops thrive.

Alistair expects that the winter barley will not be cut until around 5 August. Some patches are beginning to go down, which Alistair is taking as a good sign.

The crop received 163kg N/ha, and Alistair is looking to reduce this further next year to 125kg N/ha, with an increased focus on trace elements. He expects two fields to yield 10t/ha, with a third at 7.5t/ha. He wholecropped 12ac last week, yielding between 12 and 13t/ac. Sundangrass, a hybrid of sorghum, and quite similar to maize, has been planted in this field and Alistair hopes to harvest this as a forage crop in September.

The sunflowers in Alistair's maize have grown very strongly but he is hopeful that the maize will overcome this competition soon.

The winter oilseed rape will be close behind the winter barley but the winter wheat will not be fit to harvest until the end of August.

The wheat looks like a good crop but there are some weeds as a herbicide couldn’t be applied due to the cold and wet conditions in spring.

This has posed a question to Alistair, as he feels the field would be too weedy to put winter barley into next year, so he is considering a second wheat.

The winter rye, along with a second cut of lucerne, will be harvested this week. The companions planted with the rye will then be left to grow for another six weeks before being harvested once again at the end of August before the planting of winter oilseed rape.

The spring beans and the forage maize received a foliar spray of boron, milk, and Epsom salts. There has been no fungicide applied to the beans.

The maize is not yet knee-high and may require a second foliar feed, but Alistair hopes it starts to shoot up in the next few weeks, especially as the sunflowers he planted with the maize have done very well, and are providing competition for the maize.