Acid rain damange in Ballykelly

Winter barley harvest is about 90% complete in Londonderry, where Robert Craig is waiting to turn wet straw at Carse Hall, Ballykelly.

“The weather forecast keeps coming in with one-and-a-half dry days in a row, not two. I’ve cut 40ha (100 acres) of barley and still have 22ha (55 acres) of straw to get.

“I was just about to go and turn it this afternoon (17 August) but it’s started raining again.”

Yields had been very erratic this year, ranging from 7.4t/ha (3t/acre) to over 10t/ha (4t/acre) at 18.5% moisture, he said.

“Some of my land runs down to a loch, and we had some very cold winds and rain after the volcano erupted in Iceland earlier in the year.

“A lot of our hedges and trees got scorched on one side, and people are wondering whether the rain was acid from the dust cloud.”

Tiller damage in the cold winter also hadn’t helped, bringing average dry yields down to about 8.2t/ha (3.3t/acre) – below the farm average, said Mr Craig.

Winter wheat was ripening well, and was likely to yield about 8.6t/ha (3.5t/acre). “If it came dry now a lot of wheats are ready to cut.”

But Propino spring barley would not be ready until the second week in September. “It’s starting to change colour now.”

Crop: Winter barley
Variety: Saffron
Yield: 8.2t/ha (3.3t/acre)

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