Ireland :”Spring barley this year is some of the best I have seen in a long time

At the time of writing this piece, we are after receiving over 30mm of rain in the past 24 hours here in Killavullen and this morning I was quite nervous when heading out to check my crops as I feared there may have been areas of spring barley and oats that had fallen but thankfully everything was still standing perfectly. 

The spring barley this year is some of the best I have seen in a long time and always such dense and heavy crops are always a worry.

We made the decision this year to omit P&K application when we were planting due to the high costs and I had the confidence to do this because all my spring barley area was soil sampled this year and returned a high index 3 for both phosphorous and potassium. Instead, we applied 3,500 gallons of pig slurry per acre before ploughing and top dressed with just 60 units of nitrogen per acre. 

We have had close to ideal growing conditions for spring crops this season, early sowing followed with heat and rainfall coming at all the right times. What I found particularly difficult this year though was finding good spraying opportunities due to persistent wind.

I estimate the winter barley harvest will start around mid-July for us here. The crop in my view is ok, I have seen better but I just don’t think my winter barley is exceptional, however we will see what the combine says. I had delayed my sowing until mid-October last year and a combination of poorer seedbeds and some slug damage in places affected the establishment.

Barley yellow Dwarfing Virus (BYDV) is always a concern for us here in Cork and there is always a temptation to sow earlier when the weather allows but this greatly increases the risk of BYDV so to find a happy medium I might sow some of the tolerant variety Joyau next autumn earlier in the heavier ground.

On the issue of BYDV my winter wheat after establishing well and looking really good and thick all season has shown quite a bit of virus on the upper leaves this year. It is disappointing as I had thought we were at a low risk of BYDV due to late October planting and emergence from mid-November onwards and thus I felt there was no need for an Aphicide so it was omitted. 

We will have to wait until harvest time to determine whether or not the virus has had a significant impact on the crop. We are all ready for harvest, the combine has been serviced as has the tractors and trailers. 

It’s always good to be ready ahead of time as it prevents unnecessary downtime when we need to be cutting. Here in the yard, we have just finished installing a third dryer as well as doing some upgrades to the intake of our main Biomass burning dryer. The grain stores have been cleaned, washed and fumigated and all the elevators and conveyors checked and repaired where necessary. 

A huge concern I have this harvest is the new regulation requiring us to cultivate our stubble. 

I can see the logic in cultivating stubbles destined for spring crops and indeed it is something we do anyway each year but having to cultivate the stubbles going for winter crops seems very unnecessary not to mention it will put huge pressure on us here to get crops harvested, grain dried and straw removed, just so we can cultivate within fourteen days of harvesting. 

Harvest time is an extremely busy time of year not to mind putting extra pressure on farmers. I hope the department will see reason with this.

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