Farmer Focus: OSR sowing slot vanishing fast

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

I never expected to be scribing about harvest for three consecutive months.

We started winter barley on 17 July. Endless rain has really hampered operations and as I write we still have a sizeable area of winter wheat to cut as soon as the weather dries up – hopefully be in a day or two. Long range forecasts look promising.

Some of the winter wheat lodged and sprouts are clearly visible, but it’s all destined for feed so this should not be a problem. But getting the moisture low is more difficult.

With 200 acres cut yields look promising despite the battering that the crops have taken. So far each field has yielded 10t/ha (4t/acre) and better. Unfortunately some heads are on the ground.

Frontier spring barley was harvested during a brief showers interlude giving a rather pleasing 8.2/ha (3.3t/acre) average. One 20-acre field returned a massive 9.2t/ha (3.7 t/acre. With a lot of the winter seeding now looking set to be incomplete we are quite happy to grow spring barley instead.

Opportunities to cultivate have been non-existent for the past month, and the chances of getting winter oilseed rape sown are diminishing fast. The crop would not be forward enough heading into the winter and would be decimated by the pigeons in November and December. Spring oilseed rape will replace it if we don’t get it in. Winter barley also looks increasingly unlikely.

The oilseed rape stubbles remain uncultivated and constant damp conditions have led to a slug explosion in the chopped trash. Germinating crops would face severe slug pressure, and I would be very busy man on the quad bike feeding the pests!

I can only hope that the weather improves soon and everyone can make some serious progress in what has been a difficult and testing harvest.

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