There was great drying in Laois last week which allowed John Joe to start planting conventional carrots and organic potatoes.

It was just about dry enough when starting on the Tuesday morning, but conditions were very good over the next few days, allowing him to plant 80ac. The carrots are being planted late enough that John Joe did not put any plastic over them.

The organic potatoes are planted in the same way as conventional potatoes. However, as the weeds begin to emerge, they will be killed with a weed burner. One or two passes will be made before the potatoes emerge. A grubber can then be used throughout the rest of the season if required. With the strong growth habit of potatoes once emerged, John Joe says weed control is quite manageable in the organic system.

Stale seedbeds have been created in the organic carrot fields. These fields will not be planted until the end of May, which will be quite late for planting.

Leeks are being planted every week or every second week at present, and will continue for another month. The spring beans were planted over two weeks ago with a plough, till, sow establishment system. Caprice was the chosen variety, planted at 200kg/ha. Most of the organic spring oats have been planted, with only a small area left to drill. Some fields were ploughed, but others were only ripped before sowing. Husky was planted at 200kg/ha and is beginning to emerge.

The organic winter oats are coming on well. No weeding took place on the oats as the crop was too forward by the time the ground had dried enough, but John Joe says that the crop does not have too many weeds, and it should cause no issues with the growing of the crop or at harvest.

Planting is complete for Barty in Wexford and the spring barley has now emerged and looks well.

The Craft winter malting barley has begun to show the typical yellow leaves of BYDV in the past month. Barty says that most barley crops in his locality have some level of infection, but it is hard to know the effect on yield at this time. A growth regulator of Terpal at 0.8l/ha was applied as the flag leaf was emerging over two weeks ago. Barty then came back in with his final fungicide when the awns started emerging last week.

Establishment on Barty's spring barley headlands has been excellent after a run of a ripper.

This spray consisted of Helix at 0.6l/ha, Kavatur Plus at 0.5l/ha, and Mirror at 1.25l/ha. There is a good head on the barley and Barty is happy with it except for the BYDV.

Barty cannot remember a year in his life where he did not plant spring barley in March on his light land. This year, it was planted on 16 and 17 April. He increased the seeding rate to 196kg/ha due to the late sowing and the possibility of seed with low germination rates this year. The top dressing of nitrogen was applied directly after sowing and before rolling, bringing the crop to a total of 131kg N/ha. The barley now has a plant count of 325 plants/m2.

Before sowing his barley, Barty rips the headlands with an Amazone Pegasus. He says that this does a great job of breaking up any compaction. He never has hard headlands or low yields on his headlands. Barty notes that high yields are made or lost on the headlands of fields. Last week, Barty sprayed the crop for aphids and wild oats, with manganese also included. The weed spray will be applied in the coming days, followed by the T1 fungicide a few days later. These applications are split to ensure the crop is not put under any stress.

Planting has moved onto maize in Dublin. Tony says the top of the ground has dried out very well and has got quite hard, but there is still wet and cold clay soil at depth. Tony reminds us of the old saying to shallow plough in the spring to avoid bringing up cold and wet soil. He says his min- and strip-till systems are a variation of this and is helping to keep warm soil on the surface.

Tony sowed 300ac of spring beans over seven days. These have now emerged and look quite well. Fields were given a run of a disc before planting to 7cm.

Forty-two acres of spring wheat were planted on 29 March. The fields were disced before 80kg N/ha was spread, followed by another discing. The wheat was then sowed at 220kg/ha. The crop now has two leaves and looks fantastic. Another 80kg N/ha was applied at the weekend.

Seed dressing trials

Tony has some seed dressing trials in his beans and wheat this year. These consist of P and K, amino acid, and nitrogen-based seed dressings. They are being applied to the seed with a knapsack at 3l/tonne just before drilling.

Tony is hoping for quicker and more vigorous establishment with these seed dressings. Tony began sowing maize last Friday. He is spreading nitrogen and sulphur before shallow discing to disturb the hard crust on the surface of the soil to allow the soil to dry at depth. He then strip-tills down to 25cm and places between 370 and 615kg/ha of 18-6-12 down the spout in the strips, depending on soil indices and if the fields have received compost.

The maize is then sowed at 100,000 seeds/ha at 129mm spacings. The seeding rate will be reduced slightly as May moves on to ensure early ripening of late sown fields.Tony is aiming for a more consolidated and firmer seedbed this year to ensure good germination.