Farmer Focus Arable: Philip Reck is pleased with grain quality

Philip Reck manages 900ha (2224 acres) of light to medium loams within 20 miles of Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, Ireland. Cropping is cereals and oilseed rape, all min-till established

They the say the only part of the Irish weather that ever changes is the temperature of the rain.

This has certainly rung true throughout July. Torrential downpours and thunderstorms have become all too frequent causing flooding and crop damage.

After last autumn’s abysmal weather most of our winter cropping was abandoned in favour of spring sowings.

It would have been impossible to harvest certain winter sown crops given the weather we’ve had for the past two weeks.

Even the 100 acres of Saffron winter barley was a snatch and grab affair needing two attempts to combine it; but yield and quality was exceptional averaging 10t/ha with high bushels and low screenings.

Barra winter oats will be our next port of call before a break while we wait for spring barley to ripen. I’ve started to glyphosate the early sown Prestige barley to aid the process and get the combines rolling.

Everyone in Ireland hopes the weather will improve for main part of harvest. The prospect of reduced commodity prices, average yields and continual bad weather has left cereal growers deflated and disillusioned.

The cost of production now exceeds expected returns from the grain, which will leave many growers carrying significant debts come the autumn.

The halcyon days of harvest 2007, when good yields and high commodity prices created a buzz within the industry and which we all hoped would be the benchmark for things to come, seem but a distant memory.

Worldwide yield expectations are constantly being revised. But ever increasing amounts of grain going to ethanol production will hopefully bring about an increase in demand for cereals and a subsequent improvement in prices.

We all could certainly do with better weather to make harvest an enjoyable and rewarding experience rather than the hardship it has come to signify.

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