Tony Bell, Balbriggan, Co Dublin

There has been no real rainfall in Dublin for a number of weeks, meaning last weekend’s rain was very welcome.

This dryness caused some stress on the spring wheat, with compacted areas turning yellow. Despite this, the wheat is very clean, has tillered well and the ear is emerging. There is a small bit of BYDV in the wheat. Last week, Tony applied 40l/ha of N16, some foliar potassium, amino acids, and seaweed extract. A wild oat herbicide was applied later than Tony planned, but he is confident that the oats will be controlled. The spring beans look excellent. Tony feels that the amino acid seed dressing he used has worked, and has led to stronger and healthier plants that established very quickly. However, he says that this is subjective at this stage, and the combine will tell the true story.

Two weeks ago, he applied 5l/ha of sulphur and 1.5l/ha of amino acids. He came back this week with Pulsar (5l/ha), phosphite (0.5l/ha) and amino acids (1l/ha). In one rented field, Tony applied an aphicide, as there were huge populations of black bean aphids. However, the aphids have bounced back and he thinks he has killed many beneficial insects.

Tony finished planting maize on 5 June. This maize has rocketed out of the ground, and while the most forward crops have six leaves, the latest now has three leaves and is quickly catching up. The cold, harsh wind has stressed the maize recently, with the stress much worse on the coast than inland, where the fields are sheltered.

Weed control is finished, and Tony applied N16 (25l/ha), zinc, amino acids and seaweed extract last week to reduce the stress on the crop. Tony is impressed with his plant stand, and says there is good yield potential due to its uniformity. He is also pleased with the microgranular DAP he placed with the seed. The maize got away to a strong start and no plants went purple in the cold weather.

Tony's maize has developed well, with a great root structure, which helped it cope well with the dry weather north Dublin had recently.

John Joe Hussey, Durrow, Co Laois

Harvest is coming ever closer in Laois and the organic winter oats will be the first crop to go under the knife. They are starting to ripen up, but John Joe says they are still three weeks away. He is happy enough with the crop, but there are some weeds as it wasn’t possible to get through the crop with the tine weeder earlier in the season.

The organic spring oats are doing better in heavier, sheltered fields, while the drier fields look a bit worse for wear. He says there is a big difference in the crop, depending on what crop was in the field last year. The crops after potatoes are struggling due to compaction caused by a difficult harvest. The weeder did a good job on the spring oats and they seem to be relatively clean.

The spring beans are very variable, especially where they were sown very late.

There are also a good number of weeds, which will make harvest difficult, with redshank in one field. There is a small bit of damage from the bean weevil, but it’s nothing to worry about.

The earliest-sown organic potatoes have started to flower. They look very nice and clean, and while weed control has finished, John Joe is feeding these with trace elements, such as manganese and zinc. Weed control continues in the later-planted crops.

The third planting of leeks took place last week, with a weed burn taking place beforehand. As this wasn’t possible in the first planting, a lazy weeder is now being used in this crop, but weeds are proving difficult to stay on top of.

The organic carrots, while late-sown, look pretty good. The soil capped a bit after planting, but the carrots made it through this and now have one true leaf emerged. Weed control on the early-sown conventional carrots has finished, while irrigation and the fungicide programme has just begun.

The carrots are growing well in Laois.

Sam Myles, Kepak Farm, Clonee, Co Meath

The last fungicides have been applied and the gates closed on all crops on the Kepak Farm.

The head spray was applied to the winter wheat two weeks ago. The crop is now into grain fill and looks pretty clean, despite the poor weather this spring. The winter oilseed rape is still filling its pods and is a couple of weeks away from the desiccation stage. The crop is still standing strong and looks like a nice one.

The spring barley received its T1 fungicide three weeks ago. This contained Helix (0.7l/ha), Inception (0.42l/ha), Kingman (1.12l/ha), Moraine (0.7l/ha), Ceraide (0.7l/ha), Moxa (0.19l/ha) and Axial Pro (0.59l/ha). Despite this being quite a large mixture of sprays, it didn’t seem to stress the crop. The barley is very even across the field, has tillered very well, and has remained clean of disease and BYDV. It also managed to stay green in the cold weather in June. Sam came back in this week with the final fungicide. Helix (0.66l/ha), Zoxis (0.4l/ha), and Mag S (2.38l/ha) were applied.

The maize has passed the “knee high by the fourth of July” test, despite some stress in the cold weather in June. The last two weeks have seen a more lush, green colour return to the crop. A follow up herbicide was required a fortnight ago, as the crop was dirtier than Sam would have liked. The min-till open maize is not as developed as that planted under plastic, but Sam says all the plants are there. He applied N16 to this min-till maize to give it a kick.

Sam harvested the second-cut silage and made 200 bales of hay two weeks ago.

Sam is trialling a slurry separator this week too. He will test the slurry samples before separating, and the resulting solid and liquid portions to see how beneficial the process would be on the farm.

The slurry separator that was trialed at the Kepak Farm on Tuesday.