Most parts of the country got substantial rain over the last few days, with between 15mm and 40mm recorded in most parts that were looking for rain.

The pattern of rain was such that one would hope a lot of it was able to filtrate through the soil. Lighter rain on Friday night may have softened the ground enough for the heavier downpour on Saturday night.

The Irish Farmers Journal turned over a sod in Tipperary on Sunday, after 25mm of rain, and the top three to four inches of soil was moist and then dry underneath.

With more rain due over the coming days, the outlook is certainly much better than it was this day last week.

However, there are a couple of important points.

  • 1. It will take a few weeks for fields that are gone yellow or brown from moisture stress to turn green and start growing well.
  • 2. Fields that never went yellow or brown should recover much quicker.
  • 3. Because average farm cover is low on many farms, the amount of grass growth across the farm will be curtailed by this, even if everything else is in favour of growth.
  • Exception

    Based on the above, I am not overly confident that we will see high grass growth rates in the next week or so.

    The exception to this is on farms that have continued to grow well throughout the last few weeks. There is no reason why these farms won’t have an instant bounce in grass growth rates.

    On farms that are going to struggle for grass, taking steps to reduce the demand for grass is sensible. These steps include selling cull cows, selling surplus stock or drying off low-yielding cows.

    Some farmers are questioning the merits of selling cull cows when the price of milk is good and when these cows are still milking well.

    Based on Irish Farmers Journal calculations, keeping these cull cows and milking them on is a zero-sum game when you take into account the full costs of meal and the loss in cow value between now and December.