Land is extremely wet across the country, and for the time being it looks like there will be little opportunity to plant winter cereals. Crops in the ground are struggling to emerge, and those that have emerged are not coping very well in the current weather.
A lot of drying is needed before machinery will be able to travel on many farms. Some farmers are getting out with quads to spread slug pellets, and if slugs are an issue and you can travel, then this is a good plan. However, even a quad will not travel in many places at present.
To decide whether pellets are needed or not, traps should be laid across fields. Place three to five traps in different areas of fields.
All you need to do is place a little bit of porridge on the ground and put a slate over it.
Check under the slate the following morning. If there are four slugs or more there is a high risk of damage and pellets would ideally be applied if you can travel.
However, some pellets will melt away in the rain and slugs need to pass over the pellets to be affected, so try to apply when rain is not forecast for a few days, but this is easier said than done.
Fields after chopped straw, beans and oilseed rape are at higher risk. Different pellets will have different rates, intervals and total applications, so consult with your agronomist before application.
There is a lot of muck being made in maize fields at the minute. Maize is a really good crop to bring into the rotation and to work with livestock farmers to exchange slurry. By its nature it has a late harvest date and, in many years, machinery is being pulled from parts of fields.
Crops have to be saved, but we also must mind our soil. Maybe small patches of crops should be left where fields are flooded, rather than damaging soil structure. Looking ahead, the choice of site and use of early-maturing varieties in wetter areas is something that needs to be considered more.
Grass weed conference
A quick reminder that Teagasc will host its Grass Weed Conference on Wednesday 8 November at 10.30am in the Killashee Hotel, Naas, Co Kildare. The conference will also be available to view online.
Farmers from the Enable Conservation Tillage project will tell us about their experience in controlling grass weeds in reduced tillage systems. Researchers from Ireland and the UK will speak throughout the day.
From the Tramlines
I would like to say a big thank you to the 12 farmers who participated in the From the Tramlines programme this year. It is a page that so many readers love to open every week of the season as they get an insight into other farms across the country.
The farmers’ honesty is gratefully appreciated as they shared both the good and the bad stories from their farms which is so important, as others know that people are in the same position. It is possibly even more important in a tough year like 2023. We wish the 12 farmers all the best for the new season ahead.