Heavy rain over the weekend was more troubling for oilseed rape sowing than harvest for Clive Weir’s operations north and south of the Irish border.

“We’re all cultivated up and ready to go, but we haven’t sown any oilseed rape yet,” he said on Monday.

“It’s now just too wet. We have 250 acres to do, and the latest we’ve ever gone before was the second week of September. We’re still fairly early with harvest, but if we get another wet week I’ll start to be concerned.”

After a good run combining winter barley and oilseed rape, wet weather had made progress increasingly frustrating for his business, based at Hillsborough, Co Down.

“Most of August has been a wash-out,” he said. Before the weather broke, his Angela/Carat winter barley blend had averaged 8.4t/ha (3.4t/acre). “It wasn’t my best yield, but on some lighter ground it did suffer from drought.”

Oilseed rape, all min-tilled Labrador, had delivered up to 6.2t/ha (2.5t/acre) – 20% more than in DARD trials on the farm established after ploughing, he noted.

“That was unbelievable after it looked so poor for most of the time, but it seemed to get rain just when it needed it.”

Wheat yields had ranged from 9.3t/ha (3.8t/acre) from January sowing to 14.8t/ha (6t/acre) after oilseed rape, said Mr Weir.
Best of the varieties was Einstein, with Claire – hard hit by mildew – disappointing.

“When we started on the wheat, some of it was only 15%, but now I’m prepared to cut at 23%. We might have gone higher but for the price of fuel [for drying].”

On the plus side, returns for both grain and straw were encouraging, he noted.

“Prices are still on the rise, with wheat at 102/t and barley 98/t ex-Belfast, and straw is a crazy 22 for an 8/4/4 bale off the field.”