Storms the fi­nal straw af­ter a har­vest that turned into a sal­vage op­er­a­tion

Irish Independent - Farming - - OUR FARM - PAT MIN­NOCK

THE TILLAGE har­vest, which is not yet quite fin­ished, will long be re­mem­bered for its dif­fi­culty and for the lost crops or sal­vage work re­quired at the end, par­tic­u­larly in re­la­tion to straw. Storm Ophe­lia just added fur­ther to the woes es­pe­cially for those who had beans and maize to har­vest.

I un­der­stand many maize crops were flat­tened par­tic­u­larly south of a line across the mid­lands with the re­sult that har­vest­ing has been made a lot more dif­fi­cult.

Some maize crops, even at this rel­a­tively early stage are a sal­vage op­er­a­tion. Most years we tend to get to Novem­ber be­fore se­ri­ous losses in­cur in maize crops but Ophe­lia has brought this sal­vage op­er­a­tion for­ward.

Har­vesters that could be ex­pected to do 40 to 50 acres per day are strug­gling to do 12 to 15 acres be­cause of lodg­ing. At the time Ophe­lia ar­rived it was es­ti­mated that less than 30pc of the crop had been har­vested and while har­vest­ing pro­gressed well last week, there is still sig­nif­i­cant work to be done.


Beet har­vest­ing has also started and ini­tial re­ports are rea­son­ably good.

This is an ex­cel­lent feed for win­ter cat­tle feed­ers, but the acreage grown is rela tively small.

There are a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant grow­ers in the south and east, but due to the dif­fi­culty in sell­ing the end prod­uct the ar­eas grown are gen­er­ally on con­tract.

Good yields this year will pro­vide some sur­plus but it is ad­vis­able for win­ter fin­ish­ers to try and put a con­tract in place for next year to en­sure con­ti­nu­ity of sup­ply through­out the feed­ing sea­son.

Price in­di­ca­tions for this crop are around €35 to €40 per tonne cleaner loaded and col­lected.


The har­vest weather and the weather since har­vest ap­pears to have put a sig­nif­i­cant damp­ener on win­ter ce­real plant­ing.

With im­me­di­ate weather pro­jec­tions look­ing poor this is prob­a­bly un­der­stand­able and is lead­ing to a re­luc­tance to plant.

Speak­ing to the seed trade it ap­pears de­liv­er­ies are rea­son­ably nor­mal but as of now it is im­pos­si­ble to es­ti­mate the likely level of plant­ing. A best gues­ti­mate would be for a pos­si­ble 20pc re­duc­tion in au­tumn plant­ing.

Plant­ings of oil seed rape ap­pears to be on a par with last year which in it­self is rel­a­tively dis­ap­point­ing con­sid­er­ing the yields and re­turns achieved by this crop in 2017. Higher plant­ing was an­tic­i­pated.

Both win­ter and spring sown beans ap­pear to have yielded rea­son­ably well with 2.5 to 3 tonnes plus per acre achieved. At a price in­di­ca­tion of €160 per tonne this crop will leave a rea­son­able mar­gin com­pared to ce­re­als.

Th­ese yields and price will leave a mar­gin equiv­a­lent to 10 to 11 tonnes of win­ter wheat.

This is even with­out con­sid­er­ing the EU pre­mium for beans. If farm­ers are con­sid­er­ing win­ter beans this au­tumn it is still con­sid­ered too early, it would be best to wait un­til Novem­ber to com­mence sow­ing.

The main is­sue with win­ter beans is the abil­ity to con­trol cho­co­late spot so de­layed sow­ings will help. Bird dam­age could also be sig­nif­i­cant.

Need­less to say early sown spring beans are prob­a­bly a bet­ter op­tion but ex­pe­ri­ence has taught us that it is very dif­fi­cult to sow beans in Fe­bru­ary or early March.

This is a crop that needs a full six months to har­vest and the win­ter sown crop has the sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tage of a two to three-week earlier har­vest.

All grow­ers must al­low for the three crop rule and if grow­ers are con­sid­er­ing cut­ting back on their win­ter plant­ings, cal­cu­la­tions must be car­ried out. It should also be re­mem­bered and con­sid­ered care­fully that while con­di­tions at the mo­ment might not be con­ducive to sow­ing, leav­ing a large amount of land for spring sow­ing is prob­a­bly not the best op­tion ei­ther.

Ex­pe­ri­ence has also taught us that early spring sow­ing can be dif­fi­cult and yet again this har­vest demon­strated the losses associated with late spring sow­ing.

Nev­er­the­less, crops should not be sown for the sake of the three crop rule. Farm­ers should pick their most suit­able fields for au­tumn sow­ing and leave heavy and wet land un­sown. En­sure any sow­ing is done in good soil and seed bed con­di­tions.

I would con­sider it more pru­dent to sow less acres in good con­di­tions than try to sow too much in less than ideal con­di­tions.

Re­mem­ber, if all else fails leave land fal­low or sow a cover crop next summer which will im­prove soils and lead to bet­ter re­turns in fu­ture years.

Again 2018 har­vest prices do not look any bet­ter than the last few years so if crops are only go­ing to break even im­prov­ing soil struc­ture makes more sense.


The gen­eral con­sen­sus was that the acreage of this crop was set to grow again.

How­ever the weather has seen to it that the acreage may be re­duced with much yet to be sown for GLAS. An ex­ten­sion to the end of Oc­to­ber was given. If crops still have to be sown the po­ten­tial best mix­ture is 6 kgs of mus­tard and 75 kgs of oats per hectare.

The crop must be left in situ un­til at least the end of Jan­uary 2018 but to get more ben­e­fit from the crop the longer the crops are left the bet­ter. Th­ese should not be al­lowed go to seed as they will be­come weeds of the fu­ture.


Those farm­ers who have man­aged to sow some win­ter ce­re­als are now con­sid­er­ing their au­tumn pes­ti­cide pro­gramme. For win­ter oil seed rape, this has gen­er­ally been com­pleted.

Any crop that has had no her­bi­cide ap­plied will need to be treated with a prod­uct like Propy­za­mide. This prod­uct is best ap­plied when the weather turns colder. Ad­vanced crops should be mon­i­tored for light leaf spot and treated if nec­es­sary. A gramini­cide may be re­quired for vol­un­teer ce­re­als.

With the re­moval of IPU from the mar­ket, the her­bi­cide scene has changed. There is a greater em­pha­sis and re­liance on pre-emer­gence her­bi­cides.

The in­crease in the in­ci­dence of sterile brome has also en­cour­aged more grow­ers to con­sider pre­emerge prod­ucts on their bar­ley crops.

The use of a prod­uct like Fire­bird pre-emer­gence, sup­ple­mented with a sec­ond ap­pli­ca­tion will im­prove sterile brome con­trol.

The prod­uct Naceto has a higher rate of use of 0.6 litres and can be used in one ap­pli­ca­tion.

There are a range of prod­ucts (var­i­ous com­bi­na­tions of Chloro­toluron, Di­flufeni­can and Pendimethalin) avail­able cost­ing ap­prox­i­mately €10-12 per acre which will give rea­son­able re­sults when weed prob­lems are lim­ited.

Each prod­uct has mer­its for dif­fer­ent weed spec­trums and can be used in con­junc­tion with ad­di­tional prod­ucts like Defy and Pon­tos for more com­plex sit­u­a­tions.

There is a bet­ter choice of her­bi­cides for wheat par­tic­u­larly in sterile brome sit­u­a­tions with the like of Broad­way Star, Alister and Paci­fica. With the re­moval of IPU ad­di­tional spring treat­ment will be more likely.

It is al­ways best to use some prod­uct in the au­tumn to re­duce the weed load­ing for the spring and de­pend­ing on weeds sur­viv­ing spe­cific tar­get chem­i­cals can be iden­ti­fied to con­trol the over­win­ter­ing weeds.

Weed con­trol on win­ter oats is ex­tremely lim­ited and is mainly re­liant on DFF. The use of Lexus Class could be con­sid­ered for grass sit­u­a­tions in oats but this prod­uct can be ex­tremely hot and must be used with care and be­fore the end of the year.


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