Soggy in County Down

Harvest has been a very soggy affair for Graham Furey, who has managed to cut all the winter barley and oilseed rape at Castleview, Killyleagh, County Down.

“It’s been a terrible year here – it almost hasn’t stopped raining since 1 September last year. I had to abandon last year’s straw; March was the only decent month in the past 12 months.”

Mr Furey tried to cut some wheat about 10 days ago (14 August), but decided it was too green.

“It was 17% moisture then – I cut the first of the wheat yesterday at 22%, so I probably should have gone 10 days ago.

“It wouldn’t have thrashed very easily but it would be cut now, and wouldn’t have needed as much drying.” It yielded 7.4t/ha before drying.

Very little wheat or spring barley had been cut in the area, and heavy rain overnight and again this morning meant conditions were sodden.

“There is water everywhere, and it’s the same across all of Ireland,” said Mr Furey. “If it dried up now it would be alright, because a lot of crops are only just ready.

“But if we get another three weeks of rain it will be the worst season ever, ending in a salvage operation.”

Mr Furey’s six-row barley yielded 6.8t/ha but had very poor bushel weights of 60kg/hl. “I’ve heard of anything from 55 to 64kg/hl.”

However, by mixing it with the two row varieties, which came off at 65-66kg/hl, he was managing to get it sold okay.

“We probably averaged 6.2t/ha, which is 1.2t/ha down on last year, but I’ve heard some yields as low as 2.5t/ha so I’m reasonably happy.

“Very few people are averaging more than 7.4t/ha – anyone with free draining ground has done the best.”

Oilseed rape, having looked terrific earlier in the year, yielded 3.5t/ha; 0.1t/ha below last year. “There’s just been no sun to fill the grains and seeds.

“The Expower lodged quite badly, the Excalibur wasn’t too bad, and the Compass stood well, but lost some seed by shedding.

“If I had only grown spring barley and winter wheat I’d be very worried now, as there is just so little cut.”

Crop: Winter barley
Varieties: Volume and Element
Yield: 6.8t/ha

Variety: Retriever
Yield: 6.2t/ha

Variety: Cassia
Yield: 6.8t/ha

Crop: Oilseed rape
Varieties: Expower, Excalibur and Compass
Yield: 3.5t/ha

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