Search for good spring break crop continues

I hate being negative, but with only three dry days in the past six weeks, we’re having a dismal autumn. Dull, dank weather with no sun or wind has meant our linseed has remained standing and 35ha of wheat straw are still in the sward. No autumn crops have been drilled and the forecast is for more of the same.

Forage maize, grown under verbal contract with dairy farmers, has had a difficult year. Yields will be down on our average. A question mark remains over the continuation of this break crop. It’s getting later to harvest each year, so the search will go on for a suitable spring-drilled break. I have tried nearly all of them with limited success. Next on the agenda may be naked oats and/or lupins for wholecrop protein.

The good news is the yields from the cereal harvest were our best ever and, while grain prices have slipped a bit, we will still show profit for our year’s work.

As one of Northern Ireland’s 50 Focus Farmers, I recently attended a training day. The scheme has been a major success, with over 85% of visiting farmers giving a very good or excellent response to a survey questioning their learning experience.

Knowledge transfer on a farmer-to-farmer basis is undoubtedly the best method, particularly when the venue is a real farmyard. It is pleasing to see this scheme is attracting EU-wide interest. Congratulations to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) on having the vision to fund the programme.

Mistake of the month: With six farmers’ sons in the Irish rugby squad, I had a small bet that we would reach the final of the World Cup. The Welsh have made the bookies richer and good luck to them.

Allan Chambers farms 270ha of medium stony loam at Tullynaskeagh Farm, Tullynaskeagh, Co Down, with brother David growing cereals, grass for haylage and maize.

Read more from Allan and our other Arable Farmer Focus writers.

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