Tor­ren­tial rain brings har­vest to a stand­still

Weather play­ing ‘havoc’ with win­ter wheat and spring bar­ley warn IFA

Irish Independent - Farming - - FRONT PAGE - LOUISE HOGAN

CONCERNS are ris­ing about this year’s grain har­vest as tor­ren­tial down­pours bring com­bines to a stand­still.

Over 50mm of rain has fallen in parts of the south and east since Satur­day, leav­ing lands sat­u­rated.

Farm­ers main­tain that two days dry­ing will be needed be­fore cut­ting can re­sume on all but the light­est of lands.

The stop-start na­ture of the har­vest to-date means that over 50pc of the win­ter wheat and spring bar­ley crops are still to be cut.

Car­low-based ad­vi­sor Pat Min­nock said many farm­ers were re­stricted by the rains to a few hours cut­ting each day. Progress had slowed to a snail’s pace as a con­se­quence.

There are also fears of sprout­ing in win­ter wheat as the warm and hu­mid weather per­sists. Mr Min­nock said there were no firm re­ports of sprout­ing yet, but the high tem­per­a­tures and moist con­di­tions meant that it re­mained a se­ri­ous threat. De­spite the rain, tem­per­a­tures are ex­pected to hold in the 18-20°C range for the rest of the week.

Mean­while, in­creased lodg­ing is re­ported in spring bar­ley, par­tic­u­larly around field head­lands.

“The next week will be crit­i­cal for this year’s har­vest. If we get a good few days in a row then a lot of the crop could be mopped up quickly, but get­ting the weather is the prob­lem,” said Mr Min­nock.

The IFA es­ti­mates that close to 60pc of the spring bar­ley crop re­mains to be cut in the south­east, but more progress has been made on win­ter wheat.

How­ever, just a third of the spring bar­ley and win­ter wheat crops have been cut in north Dublin and north Le­in­ster to date.

With wet­ter con­di­tions fore­cast for the north­ern half of the coun­try this week, there are fears that har­vest­ing will be se­verely dis­rupted. The IFA’s Liam Dunne said the weather was ex­ac­er­bat­ing an “al­ready pre­car­i­ous in­come sit­u­a­tion” for tillage farm­ers, as yields are set to come in be­low last year’s lev­els and “prices re­main on the floor”.

“Weather is play­ing havoc as a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the main win­ter wheat and spring bar­ley crops re­main to be cut,” Mr Dunne said.

On a more pos­i­tive note, de­mand for straw re­mains strong.

Although lit­tle bal­ing has taken place over the last week, the price of 4x4 bales of wheaten and bar­ley straw in Cork is re­ported to have hit €20/ bale out of the field, up from €18/bale.

Mean­while, Mr Dunne ad­vised grow­ers who suf­fered se­ri­ous weather-re­lated crop losses in 2016 that ap­pli­ca­tion forms for the Crop Loss Scheme had to be lodged with the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture by this Fri­day, Au­gust 25.

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