Summer 2012 has gained the distinction as being the worst on record here in Ireland. The weather became unsettled after drilling in the spring and steadily got worse as the months went by until the month of August when we got 225mm of rain, making Wexford the wettest county in Ireland that month.
Thankfully, a respite from this arrived at the end of August and 10 days of harvesting allowed steady progress, albeit shorter harvesting days. Harvest will be finished by the middle of the month.
The potential that was evident all season did not transpire once harvesting began. Wet dull weather during grain fill and subsequent harvest decimated this potential. Thick crops never filled fully and the wet weather meant that black grains and fusarium started to become more prevalent in the sample.
While yields were reasonable in the beginning, the weather quickly began to take its toll and the golden colour that was evident at the start was quickly washed away along with the bushel, and consequently the yield. Most crops have been overripe at the time of harvesting.
Yields are down about 2.5t/ha for each crop when compared to the bumper harvest of 2011. Spring barley has yielded a disappointing 6.4t/ha. This is 2t/ha down on last year. Winter oats yielded 6.7t/ha and the winter wheat has still to be harvested, so I will have to wait and see the outcome of this crop.
Cultivations have proved impossible, even the drier lighter land has turned up tacky and patience will have to prevail. Surely we deserve a dry autumn to at least get the winter cropping drilled and visit the National Ploughing Championship being held locally. The Cooney Furlong Grain Company has a stand at the show and it will certainly make a change for a few days for all of us involved.
Philip Reck manages 1,050ha of light to medium loams within 20 miles of Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, Ireland. Cropping is cereals and oilseed rape, all min-till established.