Tom Murray

O’Shea Farms, Piltown, Co Kilkenny

The last 18 months of weather are really taking their toll in Kilkenny, with planting of potatoes, carrots and maize still ongoing. There are still many wet spots in the corners of fields that are being planted this week. Tom says he wouldn’t expect to see muck on tractor tyres in his part of the country in June, and that the lasting effects of this spring will be seen for years to come through soil compaction. He also explains how once planting is finished, irrigation will begin pretty much straight away, which has never happened before.

The winter barley and oats look quite good, but the patches that are present in each field will bring down the average yields quite considerably. The gates are now closed on both crops.

The spring barley and spring oats are in mid- to late-tillering and will receive their T1 fungicide this week. This will consist of Decoy 250 EC, Comet 200, CeCeCe 750 and Mancozin. They already received their herbicide and aphicide at the four-leaf stage, while Mantrac (1l/ha) and Epsotop (5kg/ha) were applied last week to some fields with known manganese deficiencies. Tom was disappointed to see slug damage in some of the barley, and slug pellets had to be applied. However, he says the crops planted after a root crop last year are smashing.

The plastic has been taken off the early carrots, while the middle-planted carrots are just emerging. The winter carrots are being planted this week. The maize is also being finished up, the first 50% was planted over two weeks ago.

The last of the salad potatoes are also being planted. The earliest potatoes are currently on their third blight spray, while some later-planted fields are on their first spray and some are just emerging. With a very resistant blight population now in Ireland, a robust fungicide programme is being used. Tom is ensuring that no active ingredient is being used by itself to help prevent further resistance buildup.

Shane Callan spreading slurry to 24 metres onto emerging spring barley on the Kepak Farm.

Sam Myles

Kepak Farm, Clonee, Co Meath

Things have calmed down in Meath after a hectic few weeks planting crops. Sam says he is now up to date and all crops are growing quite strongly.

The winter oilseed rape is flying. Sam says all the flowers have now fallen and the crop is well into pod fill. The winter wheat has loved the warmer and sunnier weather in the past week. The T2 fungicide spray was applied about two weeks ago at the flag leaf stage. This consisted of Aquino at 1.5l/ha, Turret at 1l/ha, Kingman at 1.25l/ha and trace elements. The crop has now begun to head out and looks well.

The maize has emerged and is just beginning to come through the plastic. There seems to be a good plant stand and the pre-emergence herbicide looks to have worked well, meaning another pass through the crop will not be required. Sam also planted 15ac of maize by minimum tillage this year, so he is interested to see how this compares to the rest of the maize.

The spring barley is growing well with some sunshine and rain showers. It received its herbicide last weekend. Sam applied 2,000 gallons/ac of cattle slurry as a top-dressing to 60ac of barley instead of artificial nitrogen.

All P and K is applied as slurry to the crops. This was spread on 24m tramlines, so he says there was minimal damage or compaction to the field.

This was applied just as the crop emerged. It had already received slurry pre-ploughing and 50kg N/ha at sowing, so this is the only top-dressing that the crop is receiving.

The remaining barley was top-dressed with artificial nitrogen. Sam says there is no difference as of yet between the crop that received slurry and the crop that received all its nitrogen as bagged fertiliser, but that a difference may become clearer as the season progresses and, of course, when the combine comes into the fields.

Tony's maize has emerged well in his strip tillage system. Weeds will be controlled this week.

Tony Bell

Balbriggan, Co Dublin

There have only been about four days where work could not be done in the past month in Dublin, as a lot of the heavy showers missed the area, allowing Tony to finish up planting his maize. The spring beans are growing nicely. Weed control was very good, helped by the moisture in the ground. The beans now range from 15cm to 30cm tall, and look promising.

The spring wheat is now at GS30. Tony says it has done well to catch up, considering it was sown in the last days of April. It received a herbicide, amino acids, 0.8l/ha of CeCeCe 750 and manganese. Tony says the amino acids and growth regulator promoted tillering, and the crop is now pretty thick. A bit of yellow rust has entered the crop, so Fezan will be applied this week, with some more amino acids and chlormequat.

Tony has never seen his maize look so well after emergence. The crops range from having four to five leaves, to just emerging.

He says the strip-till drill worked a treat in every type of system, including full tillage, min-till and strip-till. The 30cm-wide tilled strip left a lovely seedbed, with free-draining, loose soil down to 25cm, which the roots are now growing quickly into. The microgranular DAP applied in the seedbed has also shown benefits.

Tony says that the microgranules are close to each seed, promoting good growth in the first two weeks. He has no purple plants at all this year because of this.

The drill also produced a very uniform crop, which should lead to good quantities of cobs, with each one being of equally good quality.

Weed control is next on the list for Tony, as no pre-emergence herbicides were applied to his maize. He has to decide this week whether to include some foliar nutrients with the herbicide or to do this separately afterwards.