Watch: working through the night on the Antrim coast
Stephen Robb visited From the Tramlines farmer Mark McCurdy last week, where he was preparing ground for spring barley late into the night.

Last week, we travelled to Antrim to visit potato, grain and beef farmer Mark McCurdy.

Mark is one of two growers from Northern Ireland to be featured on this year's From the Tramlines.

Last week, Mark began sowing spring cereals.

The ground was first ploughed before being rotavated with a Deutz 6160 and Kuhn rotavator and a Same 160 with Amazone power harrow.

Mark was working late into the night and when we visited him, daylight had long since disappeared.

Watch the video of Mark working below.

This year, he’s planting with an Amazone AD303 super drill.

This is a new drill for him, having upgraded from a Sulky box drill due to increased hopper capacity.

The drill came in from Scotland and is in great condition.

He sowed Westminster and Tomahawk spring barley at 188kg/ha.

The crop will be rolled after and will also receive 370kg/ha of 14:14:18 shortly after sowing.

The crop will be brought up to 125kg N/ha.

Read all about Mark is this week's From the Tramlines here.

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Watch: first of Yara’s new ALS2 nitrogen sensors in action in Kilkenny

Watch: From the Tramlines - winter wheat due T1 spray

From the tramlines: moisture needed as spring crops beginning to show stress
The gates have now been closed on all this week’s growers’ winter barley crops. All crops could now do with some rain however.

The gates have now been closed on all this week’s growers’ winter barley crops. However, spring crops in particular could now do with some rain. Stephen Robb talks to growers from Galway, Laois and Wexford about the potential of these crops

Rainfall since 25 April 2019

Co Galway: 41.7mm

Co Laois: 45.7mm

Co Wexford: 32.8mm

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Ground has hardened around Chris’s fodder beet. The crop could now do with some moisture.

Chris Bourns

Eyrecourt, Co Galway

Growth has been minimal over the past few weeks in Galway explains Chris, and crops could do with some moisture at this stage. Around 42mm of rain has fallen on Chris’s farm since talking with him last and while there are good levels of moisture within the soil, the surface is hard and baked.

Some of the earlier sown beet ground is capped, due to heavy rain shortly after sowing. As a result, this beet has just emerged. Chris applied a T1 herbicide spray of Betanol maxxPro (0.3l/ha), Debut (18g/ha) and Fenzar (0.3l/ha) and will follow up with a T2 as soon as temperatures improve. There are reports of mangle fly damage in beet crops close to him but his crop remains clean. He generally runs a three-spray herbicide programme. The last of the beet was sown on 5 May and has yet to emerge.

His spring wheat is quite advanced and has developed a good rooting structure. The crop received a Sonis (0.15l/ha) Foxtrot (0.6l/ha), Calibre Max (90g/ha)Pixxaro (0.4l/ha) and Spavario (50ml/ha) on May 18. The crop is very clean so far, helped by the dry weather. The crop is due its T1 this week. The crop was brought up to 180kg N/ha. His spring barley has been slower to develop and remains around GS20. The crop received Sonis (0.15l/ha) and Spavario (50ml/ha). The crop is slightly under pressure as a result of dryness Chris explains. The crop was brought up to 150kg N/ha. He is happy with the performance of his winter barley and the crop received a head spray of Diamant (0.75l/ha) and Deuce (0.75l/ha) last week. He applied Corbel (0.4l/ha) on a small amount of the crop a number of weeks ago, as there was some mildew present in low ground. The crops have recovered well from the chemical scorch, which they suffered from last month.

Disease pressure also remains low on his winter wheat. The crop received a T2 flag leaf spray on 16 May of Librax (1.8l/ha), Bravo (1l/ha), Globaztar (0.5l/ha) as well as Medax Max (0.3kg/ha).

Paul’s winter barley crops remain relatively clean with the exception BYDV.

Paul O’Connell

Ballybrittas, Co Laois

Crops in Ballybrittas are on the edge of seriously requiring rain Paul remarks, as he explains that just 46mm of rain has fallen since speaking to him last. Despite high day time temperatures being high,nights have been cool, meaning crop development has been slow. However, the opportunity to get work done has been great explains Paul and all sprays were applied on time.

Paul has never seen winter barley crops so slow to head out before. While he is happy with the progress of the crop, around 5-7% of the crops are showing yellow leafs as a result of BYDV. There is no obvious signs of stunting, so Paul wonders what the yield implications of the virus infection will be. With the gate now closed on the crop, he won’t have long to wait to find out.

Last week, the crop received its head spray. His hybrid crops received chlorothalonil (1l/ha), Venture Extra (0.75l/ha) and Priaxor (0.75l/ha). His two row crops received chlorothalonil (1l/ha) and Ceriax (1.8l/ha). He added 2l/ha of a magnesium trace element spray into both tank mixes to assist with grain fill.

Disease pressure has been very low in both varieties explains Paul, with the exception of BYDV. Paul applied a holding spray onto the crop a number of weeks ago, as there was a long interval between his main fungicide timings. Stem strength appears to be particularly good this year, and Paul attributes this to the lack of any burst of growth due to low temperatures throughout the season.

The crop now needs sunshine and moisture to help it achieve its potential, he explains.

His winter wheat crops are looking well and are dark green in colour. His flag leaf spray was slightly later than anticipated on account of slower crop growth. He applied a Librax (1.8l/ha) and chlorothalonil (1l/ha) when the flag leaf was fully out. He also applied a Corbel (0.4l/ha) as there was a small amount of mildew present in some crops.

His crops now appear relatively free of yellow rust.

Vivion’s hybrid winter barley remains clean to the base.

Vivion Tubritt

New Ross, Co Wexford

After a deluge of rain in mid-April, ground quickly dried out in Saltmills leading to a cap developing on the surface of many of Vivion’s fields. Since then, just 33mm of rain has fallen and all crops could now do with some rain.

Vivion explains that the top inch of his earlier sown potato drills are solid, but there’s plenty of moisture within the drill.

Potato planting was finished last Tuesday in good conditions. This was not without its challenges, explains Vivion. He had to re-plough potato ground, which was first ploughed six weeks ago, in order to get it adequately dried out.

The crop was sprayed with a pre-emerge herbicide of Shotput (0.5kg/ha), Defy (3l/ha) and Emerger (2.5l/ha). He appears to have got a good kill in his crop and the potatoes are pushing through.

Some of his exposed spring barley is beginning to show signs of stress as a result of the capping on and dry weather. However, despite this, most of the crops are looking reasonably well.

Vivion is noticing a big difference in his spring crops which have followed cover crops grazed by 600 lambs over winter. The combination of roots, biomass, and manure has led to the establishment of a very thick, green, healthy looking crop, Vivion explains.

He dialled back total nitrogen by 6-13 kg N/ha as a result. The rest of his spring barley crops were brought up to 150kg N/ha.

Earlier this week, the crop received a T1 of Decoy (0.4l/ha) and Comet (0.4l/ha) as well as Medax Max (350g/ha) and Axial Pro (0.5l/ha).

His Craft winter malting barley has fully headed out with a high number of grains, although the crop is somewhat thin.

The crop received a head spray last week of Ceriax (1.6l/ha) and Bravo (1l/ha). His hybrid barley also received a head spray of Ceriax (1.83l/ha) and Spriodor (1l/ha) as well as a trace element spray last week.

The flag leaf is 60% out in his winter wheat and will be due a T2 next week. The crop is clean but appears to be somewhat backward.

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Listen: promising crops in Co Donegal
Stephen Robb talks to Donegal From the Tramlines farmer David Moody about the progress of this year’s winter and spring crops.

Last weekend, we paid a visit to Donegal From the Tramlines farmer David Moody.

Crops have been progressing steadily on his farm since we last spoke with him.

David explains how recent moisture has helped push on his crop on despite cool temperatures lately.

Malting barley

David is growing spring malting barley for the first time.

He explains that the crop appears to have benefitted from the front loading of nitrogen at an early stage.

He hasn’t applied an aphicide and hasn’t in many years.

“Aphids don’t get the same chance up here and they’re not our biggest concern,” he explains.

Spring wheat

His spring wheat has emerged well, with high establishment.

The crop is due 60kg N/ha this week. He uses Sulfa CAN and the crop will be brought up to 140kg N/ha.

Listen to the full podcast below

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From the Tramlines: winter barley head spray in focus as awns emerging

Good crop potential - but with challenges
Discussion on current and future husbandry options made the Glanbia tillage crops walk in Knocktopher particularly interesting

If the crops on William Holohan’s farm in Knocktopher are indicative of all winter crops in Co Kilkenny, then there is good potential around. Last week, Glanbia held a walk on William’s farm and the evening provided some lively discussion about his crops and the challenges for the future. William generally establishes behind the plough but he put in one crop of wheat with a Claydon last autumn.

Two and six-row barley

The first field of winter barley we visited was a crop of a Belfry six-row hybrid.

Like all crops of six-row, it had eared out that bit earlier than the two-row types. It was largely clean, but there had been a bit of mildew at the base of the crop.

This crop was sown on 25 September at 105kg/ha into heavy land.

With this early date the seed was dressed with Redigo Deter for BYDV prevention and also with Latitude to reduce take-all infection risk.

On the night, the crops scored well against both diseases.

The crop followed winter wheat after a break crop, so it presented a potential risk for take-all.

During discussion, Michael Hennessy and Steven Kildea of Teagasc indicated that the response of winter barley to Latitude was much less consistent than with winter wheat.

Sometimes it did deliver a yield benefit, other times not.

This crop had received a total of 200kg N/ha, along with two growth regulators and a three-spray fungicide regime. It had also received 50kg P/ha plus a hefty 170kg K/ha, as both compound and straight potash. The crop also got Wolftrax manganese on both the winter and spring applied compound.

The adjoining crop of Cassia was broadly similar, but a bit later despite being planted a day earlier.

This crop showed a few plants with BYDV infection, but nothing to be concerned about

The rotation was the same as the Belfry, but the seeding rate was 185kg/ha and Redigo Deter and Latitude were also used.

This crop showed a few plants with BYDV infection, but nothing to be concerned about. Both crops had received an aphicide post emergence.

Fertilisation was pretty much the same except that the total N was 220kg N/ha. Fungicide was also slightly different, with higher focus on mildew control early in the season. Growth regulation was also slightly different, with Tempo (trinexapac-ethyl) rather than Terpal used late in the season.

This crop still did not have awns emerged in parts of the field, but the Terpal may have had something to do with that.

Given the inevitable loss of chlorothalonil next year, Steven advised growers to use some folpet as an alternative this season

A short discussion with Steven indicated that the preferred optimum timing for the final fungicide on winter barley was when the awns were half to two-thirds out rather then when they appear initially. This is important for the timing of ramularia control.

Given the inevitable loss of chlorothalonil next year, Steven advised growers to use some folpet as an alternative this season.


During a discussion on BYDV control next autumn, Michael Hennessy reiterated that delayed sowing date is a major tool in reducing infection.

While we all expect pyrethroid insecticides to continue to work in the majority of cases, Michael said that research has clearly shown that more resistance mechanisms are likely to occur the more often insecticides are used.

For this reason, we should not depend on sprays alone for BYDV control as they are more likely to fail where they are used most often.

Excellent oats

A really good crop of Barra oats following winter wheat was at GS38/39 on the night. This was sown on 15 October at 145kg/ha.

Like many other crops, it had disease coming out of winter and was sprayed with Tocata in early April for both mildew and crown rust.

The crop had received two applications of Tempo plus CCC and seemed nice and strong

It was sprayed again with Cielex and Talius on 19 April, but crown rust was beginning to move again last week.

The crop had received two applications of Tempo plus CCC and seemed nice and strong.

Strip-tilled wheat

While the vast majority of William’s crops were established using a plough-based system, he strip-tilled a crop of Costello winter wheat following spring oilseed rape this year.

It was planted with a Claydon drill using a contractor on 10 October and dressed with Deter.

Septoria was visible and moving on the crop, and Steven said that there was already visible infection on the second last leaf

On the night, the flag leaves were quarter to three-quarter emerged on all main stems and so it was likely to have been at T2 timing either side of last weekend.

It had received a T0 of chlorothalonil (CTL) on 10 April followed by Elatus Era plus CTL on 2 May.

But septoria was visible and moving on the crop, and Steven said that there was already visible infection on the second last leaf.

Septoria control is a priority and a high rate of Librax was planned to alternate the triazole used in the T1 spray. William said that other winter wheat crops had some yellow rust infection earlier in the season, but that these had been cleaned up by the fungicide.