Some tillage farmers managed to get out to fields in the past few days. The main priority was getting fertiliser onto winter cereals and winter barley in particular. Crops were badly in need of nutrition with many yellow crops appearing across the country in recent weeks due to lack of nitrogen.

There have also been some applications of herbicides and growth regulators on winter crops in recent days. However, it has been hard to get out to crops and some fields are too wet to move into.

A smaller number of farmers have been planting spring crops in the past few days on drier ground. Spring beans are the priority, while small amounts of spring cereals were planted as well.

However, the vast majority have yet to move on cultivations or planting as ground conditions are not adequate.

Unsettled weather

Rain has continued to fall and while recently many showers have not been as heavy they have not allowed for any long period of drying as there has been rain almost every day. The weather forecast for this week also shows little opportunity for drying with unsettled weather and showers in the forecast throughout the week and weekend.

Most fieldwork is likely to be finished for this week. Met Éireann has said that nationally, rainfall this week could hit 20-60mm, which is 1.5 to four times the weekly average in March.

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and is the traditional date used for planting spring barley. With little ploughing and other work done and rain in the forecast there will be little spring barley planted at this date.

However, ground conditions are most important, so it is better to wait for land to dry up and plant in good conditions.

Two and three-crop rule

Meanwhile the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has not given any update on crop diversification requirements. The Minister had requested a derogation from the requirements, along with other countries, from the rules for this season.

It seems there is a legal issue as a derogation has been granted for the previous two years. However, the Irish Farmers Journal understands that the Minister can use force majeure to allow flexibility on these rules due to poor weather conditions.

Food Vision Report

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue is to receive the Food Vision Tillage Group’s report this week. The report has 25 actions which are aimed at supporting and improving the tillage sector and ultimately grow the area under tillage. However, members of the tillage industry have suggested that tillage area could decline by at least 20,000ha this season.