The hot, dry weather last week proved to be ideal for John to finish his nine-week harvest and to get the last of the straw baled.
Reflecting on the harvest, John says that while it was challenging, 2009 and 2012 were much worse for him, especially in terms of land trafficability. He has little to no ruts in the fields this year.
The last of the spring barley was harvested on 6 September.
This was planted in early May on low-lying ground. The overall average for spring barley was 2.9t/ac, with two-thirds of the malting barley passing.
Any spring barley harvested before the dry spell had the headlands chopped to make it easier to save the straw when conditions allowed.
The spring beans averaged 2.3t/ac. This was below what John had hoped the crop would yield, which he thinks is because of the drought in June.
The crop was established by plough and one-pass but, interestingly, John has seen a couple of crops of beans local to him that yielded over 3.5t/ac.
These were planted by a Sumo DTS, which may have led to deeper-rooting, allowing the crop to cope better with the dry conditions at flowering. John will experiment with the system next year on his own crop.
Almost all land has been given a light run of a disc harrow, whether as part of the Straw Incorporation Measure, to reduce slug pressure after beans and oilseed rape, or under the Nitrates Directive regulations.
The focus is now turning to preparing for next year’s crops. Seed has already been ordered and some field drainage is currently taking place to trap some springs.
No commercial winter oilseed rape is being planted this year due to rotational constraints, John tries to limit the crop to one in every six years. However, trial plots of winter oilseed rape were planted on 30 August, and they have emerged nicely.
The harvest has also finished for Neill and all fields have been baled. It was a frustrating stop-start harvest but the recent good weather made all the difference to tie up all the loose ends.
He says it is now time to hit the reset button and prepare for the next season.
When last speaking to Neill, two-thirds of the winter wheat was cut. Happily, Neill reports that the best wheat was left till last.
This wheat was after beans and was on a good block of land. It yielded over 4t/ac, but yields are still well back on the farm’s average due to the effects of the drought in June.
The spring beans were harvested last week and yielded better than Neill thought they would.
He expected 2t/ac to be the maximum they could yield, but they came in at 2.4t/ac at 18% moisture.
The bean haulm was chopped. Neill was happy with the yield, but says that it was very clear from the combine cab that the hollows of fields yielded very well, while the banks struggled badly in June and aborted many flowers.
Winter wheat will be planted in this ground.
The stubble turnips sowed after winter barley look very well so far. The earlier-sown crops are much stronger than later-planted crops.
Neill says that every week is crucial to produce a good yield. Slug damage has been minimal, which has surprised Neill.
The last of the stubble turnips to be planted had broiler manure applied beforehand to provide a nitrogen boost and to provide P and K in the soil for spring beans next year.
The maize looks very good and is about two weeks from harvest. The crop is very uniform and has great potential.
Most plants have two fully germinated cobs. Weather will dictate whether winter planting or maize harvesting will be prioritised.
Hedge-cutting and cleaning down the combine are next on the agenda, and Neill hopes to begin planting winter barley in a week’s time.
Conall finished harvesting on Sunday, just before an inch of rain fell in quite a short period of time in Co Galway.
The last bits to be harvested were wet spots in fields of spring barley that were not harvested with the rest of the field. This shows the continuing difficult ground conditions being faced by many. The combine has got stuck twice in the past month, even though dual wheels have been fitted.
Fortunately, it was not too difficult to rescue the combine both times.
Overall, the spring barley averaged 2.3t/ac with four to six round bales/ac. The earlier planted fields did best, with one field yielding 3.3t/ac.
On the other hand, Conall says that any barley planted in May was a waste of time despite lower inputs, with yields around 1.7t/ac.
The low straw yield has led to a very strong demand for bales, and Conall says he could easily sell another 800 bales if he had them.
The spring beans were harvested last week.
They yielded 2.1t/ac at 19% moisture.
Conall had no experience of beans before growing this crop so he is happy enough with this outcome. He found setting the combine quite difficult, and the lower sieves were fully blocked by the time he was finished.
It was quite difficult cutting when the crop still had some green in the stalks and some weeds were coming through.
All land where winter crops had been harvested has been planted with a cover crop, while all land under spring crops will be going into winter cereals.
Conall is only a week away from beginning to plant winter crops. He will have a lot of winter oats due to crop rotations, while winter barley will also be drilled.
Fields are now being sprayed with glyphosate where necessary to prepare for ploughing.