James Robinson – Newtowncunningham, Co Donegal

It’s been a dry month so far in east Donegal. James explained that he was lucky last week, as he missed all of the heavy thundershowers that caused damage in the area.

Around 8mm of rain has fallen in July so far, which, along with the warm temperatures, has been excellent for growth.

James's spring barley crops are filling well.

He managed to save all of his hay two weeks ago. The crop, which is grown under GLAS, yielded around 16 7x3x3 square bales/ac.

James opted to make square bales this year, as he thinks there is a better market for them. He aims to graze the fields for the rest of the year with sheep.


The spread of the highly competitive grassweed blackgrass has been well documented around the country and Donegal hasn’t escaped this.

James discovered a small number of blackgrass plants in his Tower winter barley this week and quickly acted to destroy it.

As numbers were low, he was able to hand rogue the weed. He is puzzled as to how it made its way into the crop, as the field in question is two years out of potatoes and he didn’t import any organic manures or bought new machinery.

This is the second confirmed case of the weed in the northwest in the past month.

His crops are doing very well, however. He thinks his winter barley crops are a week away from harvest and he is optimistic about the crop’s yield potential. Both his Tower and Patriot varieties also appear to have good crops of straw this year. If weather permits, James will bale the straw into square bales this year.

His spring barley crops have been slow to develop this season, but James doesn’t think that is a bad thing. The crops are green and clean and the grains continue to fill. Plants are averaging around 24 grains per head so he thinks there is reasonable yield potential in the crop.

Tim Ronaldson – Naas, Co Kildare

There have been a number of particularly heavy thunder showers in Naas over the past couple of weeks, explains Tim. These have resulted in a small amount of lodging in his winter and spring barley.

So far in July, over 45mm of rain has fallen on his farm, mostly in the form of heavy bursts. However, temperatures have been high, so growth has been good.

Tim spraying Signum onto his spring beans.

He thinks his winter barley harvest will kick off around 26 July, starting with his Joyau crop. This would be a week later than normal for him. From there, he’ll move onto his Belfry and Castings varieties.

Tim finished his spring barley fungicide programme at the end of June, applying Lentyma (1l/ha), Lamast (1.4l/ha), Zosis (0.4l/ha), as well as Magflo 300 (1.5l/ha). Disease pressure remains low in his crops.

His spring beans are now very tall after enjoying the hot and moist weather. The crop was hitting the windscreen of his Bateman sprayer when applying Signum at 0.75kg/ha last week. While there is some chocolate spot and mildew present in the crop, infection levels remain low.

The pods have formed well off the ground this year and Tim is hopeful of its yield potential.

Winter wheat finished

His winter wheat crops are coming along well. Since talking to Tim last, he applied the crops’ head spray, which consisted of Tebucur (0.7l/ha), Chamane (0.6l/ha), Protendo (0.4l/ha), as well as Epso Combitop (0.6kg/ha).

There is some tipping on the leaves, but the crops remain relatively clean. His crop of Conros was badly grazed by rabbits during the winter, but is now incredibly thick. However his Costello is the most impressive looking by far. Tim’s winter oats are still green and are also quite tall. He says that he appears to have an amount of oat mosaic virus in the crop this year and may have to consider extending his rotation.

Thomas Lonergan – Cahir, Co Tipperary

It’s been a quiet time on Thomas’s farm, as crop protection programmes have long since finished and the bulk of the second-cut silage is still a week or two away.

It’s been a humid month so far in Tipperary, with plenty of moisture.

The 38mm of rain that fell in July so far has been welcomed, explains Thomas, as spring crops in particular needed it.

He thinks the cereal harvest will kick off in a weeks’ time, which will be later than normal for him.

His Joyau variety will be the first crop ready for harvest, followed by the rest of his winter barley crops shortly after.

Thomas's Joyau winter barley crops are nearly fit for harvest.

All of these crops are standing well and he thinks they have good potential.

He thought that his hybrid winter rye crops would have been ready for harvest shortly after the winter barley, considering how fast they developed. However, Thomas explains that they have slowed down considerably since and he now thinks the harvest will clash with winter wheat, around 10 August.

This year has been a learning experience for Thomas and the many other farmers growing rye for the first time.

Winter wheat

His winter wheat crops remain healthy and green in colour, with little late season disease creeping into the upper canopy, despite the humid weather. The same is true for his winter oat crops, although they have begun to turn in colour.

Thomas thinks there won’t be much time between the end of his winter barley harvest and the beginning of the oat harvest.

Spring barley

His spring barley is relatively average looking and he thinks the dry June may have been the cause of this. Just 12.8mm of rain fell over the entire month on his farm.

He is now ready for harvest 2021 after servicing his combine, baler and grain trailers. They don’t store grain over the winter, so have no need for dryers or pedestals.