Nightmare harvest for NI growers

21 August 1998

Nightmare harvest for NI growers

HARVEST in Northern Ireland is fast becoming a nightmare of sodden fields, flattened crops and bogged-down combines.

Although growers in the north-west of the province have borne the brunt of near non-stop rain since June, other areas are equally hard hit, says Joe MacDonald, arable secretary of the Ulster Farmers Union.

Londonderry-based grower John Gillielands has recorded 306mm (12in) of rain on his 307ha (760 acres) of arable land at Brook Hall Estate since early June. Consecutive dry days have been non-existent apart from two in July, and he was forced to cut at 28% moisture to gather his last lodged 30ha (75 acres) of 109ha (270 acres) of winter barley.

"We cut 69 acres ourselves and the combine had to be towed out 14 times, " he said.

"It is more of a salvage operation than a harvest," said Robert Moore at nearby Molenan, who reckoned conditions were the worst since 1985. "Yields are poor and the ground like a wet sponge. In our 20-acre field of rape we had to pull the combine out three times, even with cage wheels fitted." &#42

Hauling the combine out, yet again; the harvest for Robert Moore is bleak.

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