Neill Patterson

Seaforde, Co Down

Despite the broken weather, ground conditions are holding up quite well for Neill due to his dry land.

With winter barley now finished, the average yield came in at 3.7t/ac at 16.5% moisture. Sixty per cent of the straw was on the ground for at least four weeks. Neill did not touch it until there was good weather forecast, and then raked and baled it.

There were one-third fewer bales than when baled straight after the combine, but the straw was in quite good condition considering the time it spent in the field.

As mentioned in previous articles, Neill plants a lot of stubble turnips after winter barley. Seventy-five per cent of this has been planted so far.

A Sumo Trio is used for this job, including a row of subsoiler legs ripping the ground down to 10in. The ground is rolled afterwards to help with slugs and seed-to-soil contact.

About two-thirds of the winter wheat has been harvested, and hopefully the remainder will be completed this week.

Yields are well back on average farm yields, but Neill says it is actually doing better than he expected, averaging 3.8t/ac at 18% moisture.

In the hollows of fields, the crop is yielding 4.6t/ac, but the drought burnt the hills very badly, bringing down the average yield.

Neill also says that he has been disappointed with KWS Dawsum, with a lower yield and amount of straw than other varieties on the farm. Some wheaten straw was baled on Friday night and yielded 5 8x4x3 bales/ac.

The spring beans are turning in quickly. As they were tall and dense, they have leaned over quite a bit, but are not flat on the ground. They still look very promising and should be nearly ready to harvest in three weeks.

The maize is as good as Neill has ever had. It is very tall and plenty of cobs are forming. He expects it will be harvested at the end of September or the start of October.

Conall Moore

Ballygar, Co Galway

Ground conditions have become very poor in Galway over the past number of weeks.

Mowers and balers have got stuck when making silage, and to reduce the risk of sinking with his combine, Conall has bought a set of dual wheels, which he hopes to never use.

The winter barley has been finished, with an overall average of 3.7t/ac at 18% moisture. Conall has also managed to get this straw baled at 10 to 12 bales/ac.

A lot of the straw was very broken down when baling, especially as some of it has been tedded and raked three times. All of this straw has already been sold, and Conall says he has a long list of buyers for spring barley straw, but he is unsure of how much will be available for them.

Fifty per cent of the winter barley ground was planted with a cover crop. Conall is using a forage rape and leafy turnip mix, and he is adding 1kg/ha of tillage radish to help alleviate compaction. The stubbles were first disced before the cover crop seed was spread with a fertiliser spreader. The fields were then rolled where conditions allowed.

The winter oats were cut in tough conditions as the crop was fully lodged. It yielded 2.5t/ac at 17% moisture. The straw was chopped here under the Straw Incorporation Measure. Conall sees this scheme as a great help in a bad year, taking the effort out of saving straw and helping to keep straw prices high.

Conall has also cut what he thought was his best field of spring barley. It was drilled on 2 April in good conditions, and Conall had predicted that it would yield over 3t/ac, but could only manage 2.8t/ac at 20% moisture, which was disappointing.

There are now worries over the yield of the remaining spring barley which has not looked as promising throughout the year and has lots of green grains in it.

John Dunne

Shanagarry, Co Cork

Some 136mm of rain in July and 30mm so far in August has not stopped John from getting a lot of harvest work completed. He is very happy with the crop yields so far, and all crops and plot trials have been harvested as they come ripe when the weather allows.

The winter oilseed rape was harvested on 25 July. The LG Auckland yielded very well at 2.1t/ac at 9 to 10% moisture. The straw was chopped and incorporated under the Straw Incorporation Measure, as were the spring oats and most of the winter wheat. The light run of a disc should also help to control slugs. John is very pleased that he entered into the scheme this year given the weather conditions that have occurred.

The WPB Isabel spring oats yielded 3.8t/ac at 20% moisture and 58 kph. This is John’s highest ever yield for spring oats, which he puts down to early planting and the fact that no oats had been grown in the field before in living memory.

A small area of spring barley has been harvested. The Geraldine crop yielded 3.4t/ac at 21% moisture.

There is some late-planted malting barley still to be cut which does not look as promising and John doubts that it will pass for malting.

John has also completed cutting his winter wheat. The October-drilled KWS Dawsum yielded 4.44t/ac at 21% moisture, which is surprisingly good considering the badly damaged headlands and months of waterlogging it suffered.

Even more surprising was the December-planted KWS Dawsum, which yielded 4.6-4.7t/ac when adjusted to 20% moisture. Some of the crop had lodged due to a storm on 4 August. This was cut at a high moisture content as John was conscious of the weight loss that can occur from repeated wetting and drying. Both of these crops show the resilience of winter wheat in a challenging growing season.

The spring beans are ripening quickly and John expects that they will be ripe by the end of this month.