Harvest preparations

Once weather allows there will be crops to cut. Some winter barley still has a bit to go. Make sure you have the combine fully serviced. Trailers should also be ready for the season ahead. Clean out trailers and make sure they are equipped with emergency breaks or break away chains. Being prepared for harvest is important. It avoids rushing jobs.

The most important thing at harvest time is that everyone is safe, so the more preparation that is done the better.

Mapping performance

While harvesting your crops, keep an eye on how different fields performed and what areas of the farm need some work. Some of you will have yield maps on your combine, which are extremely helpful.

Whether you have those maps or not you should make notes on patches that didn’t grow or perform well because of compaction, the wet weather, or which may have been affected by BYDV for example.

These notes will help you understand your yield maps and help with decision making on drainage, where to spread organic manures and what crops and varieties to plant in the season ahead.

Whole crop

Some farmers may be thinking of selling crops as whole crop silage this year, while others have already harvested or have crops to harvest. Others may have a protein/cereal mix crop.

You should target the grain when it is just past the milky stage and at the cheesy stage. In arable silage the bottom pea pods should be about 3-4cm long and swollen, but not totally swollen. Consult with your adviser on additive use. It is generally recommended.

If selling crops to another farmer, have your costs done up and know what profit you need to make. Consider how much you would make from a standing crop by selling the grain and straw or chopping the straw.

Straw is likely to have a high value this season as it is in short supply.

Protein payment

This year’s protein payment is likely to be about €377/ha for protein crops and €188.50/ha for protein/cereal mix crops. That’s based on an estimated total protein area of 19,800ha.

If an increase comes from the Department of Agriculture it is likely to bring the payment to €500/ha. This was the original payment prediction at the start of the new CAP.

The payment was topped up last year to that prediction which was €583/ha, but there is no guarantee this will happen this season.


This week’s paper has a varieties focus. As harvest kicks off it’s hard to think about varieties, but now is the time to do it.

Read through the focus, pick out a few varieties that you might like to grow that will suit your system and then keep an ear out to hear how they perform in the fields this year while at the grain intake or when talking to other farmers who might be growing them.

If you have oilseed rape on your farm planting is not far away, so you need to start planning your cropping area for next year.