The few dry days last week were well-flagged by Met Éireann and they turned out better than expected, with a brisk southern breeze drying out even the winter barley straw that had been on the ground for a full month.
It looked tired and brown in the rows after the combine, and while we turned some of it, the bulk of it was dry right through the sward and was baled into 8 x 4 x 4 big bales.
We had begun baling the wheaten straw the evening before and by the following evening we had finished.
Yields of straw are definitely back this year, with only one small field of Graham doing over four bales/acre. The rest of the wheat did about three big bales/acre, and the winter barley little over two bales/acre.
With the straw safely baled, our silage contractor moved in with a big John Deere, and with driving three mowers, a tedder to match and a new self-propelled forage harvester, we were finished in the dark just ahead of the promised rain.
Third cut plans abandoned
While the second cut has been taken a fortnight later than normal, it is still a relief to have the winter fodder supply secured, with practically no damage to the ground; though all plans for a third cut have been abandoned.
With only the beans left to harvest, we have focused in on their progress more than normal. They were, as I mentioned, sown in late April.
We had ploughed just six to seven acres in February, but abandoned the ploughing effort with the wet ground and continuous rain.
When we got round to sowing in late April, we tilled the ploughed ground but direct-drilled the rest into weedy stubble that had been untouched since autumn.
Not surprisingly, the beans drilled into the ploughed and tilled ground established themselves quicker, and even though we have had excellent establishment after the direct drilling, the ploughed and tilled ground has produced a crop that still seems taller – but more to the point, the beans sown in ploughed and tilled ground have dramatically more disease (chocolate spot, I presume) than the main crop direct-sown, but which emerged much later.
Why? Is it too like the Clearfield oilseed rape, a victim of the very warm June and the relentless rain of July?
I look forward to some clear post-harvest analysis.