Thomas Lonergan – Cahir, Co Tipperary

When talking to Thomas this week, he explained that ground conditions remain good and he had no issues with trafficability when cutting hedges.

However, he said he expects this to change due to forecasted heavy rain towards the end of the week.

He says that despite the notable drop in temperatures this week, growth is still exceptional.

Thomas's winter barley crops are thriving due to mild temperatures.

This is really visible in his cover crops, which are lush and green.

He applied an aphicide and herbicide onto his hybrid winter rye 10 days ago. He says that as aphid pressure is generally high in his area, he decided to apply an aphicide as a precaution, given the unseasonably high temperatures. He applied Karate (50ml/ha), along with the herbicide Reliance (0.3l/ha).

This year, Thomas is growing Cassia, Belfry and Bazooka winter barley. The Cassia crop was sown at 172kg/ha, while his hybrid crops were sown at 94kg/ha. He was able to get some of it rolled.

Around 80% of his winter barley crops have now received a post-emergence herbicide. Thomas says that he normally opts for a post-emergence strategy, as time pressure at drilling prevents him from applying a pre-emergence spray.

He moved onto sowing Costello winter wheat shortly after at a rate of 172kg/ha. The crop is due to receive a herbicide soon. Finally, he moved onto Husky winter oats, which were also drilled at a rate of 172kg/ha. He says that conditions were excellent at the time of drilling wheat and oats, and he was able to roll after drilling.

Thomas decided to soil sample the entire farm this year to get an up-to-date handle on his soil indices. He says that with fertiliser prices expected to be at record highs next year, he anticipates having to reduce fertiliser rates. These reductions will likely be targeted at fields with high P and K indices, he says.

He was able to secure a small amount of nitrogen earlier in the season, but like many farmers, will be organising the rest in the New Year.

Michael Kennedy – Athenry, Co Galway

The weather has turned showery and broken over the past few weeks in Galway, according to Michael.

This means he has had to grab every opportunity he could to harvest potatoes this year.

Despite the 146mm of rain that has fallen on his farm over the past month, conditions were still reasonably good last week when harvesting.

Michael harvesting Rooster potatoes last week.

He is now down to his last 20ac of potatoes. Both his Record and Rooster varieties are yielding very well. Michael used the desiccant spray Spotlight Plus this year on his potato crops. While he did get a good kill, it proved very slow to act. In some cases, it took six weeks for the tops to die. The mild weather and good growing conditions likely contributed to this. He says that if he had of used diquat, he likely would have been finished the harvest at this stage. Despite diquat receiving a derogation for the season, supplies were extremely tight in the country.

Michael harvests using a Grimme 1500 trailed harvester and digs straight into bulk trailers. The potatoes are then graded into boxes in his store before being placed into cold storage. Currently, the temperature in the cold store is sitting at around 14°C, but this will be gradually reduced to 3°C when the harvest is completed. He bags and sells these potatoes every week.

Michael is very happy with the progress of his winter barley so far. His earlier sown crops are at the two leaf stage, while his later sown crops are just emerging. The later sown crops were drilled at a rate of 200kg/ha. All crops received a herbicide of Tower (2l/ha) and he also added in the aphicide Markate 50 (100ml/ha). He says the mild temperatures increased aphid pressure in his area. He rolled some of his winter barley crops after drilling and says he won’t do this again as the tractor wheel marks are still visible.

Brendan Lynch – Ardee, Co Louth

The weather has been excellent in Louth over the past few weeks, explains Brendan.

This has made potato harvesting and winter crop drilling a pleasure. His potato harvest kicked off on 11 October and after having a straight run, was completed 11 days later.

He says that ground conditions were excellent this year, making the harvest very easy on the soil, machinery and the operators.

The potato harvest was a smooth affair for Brendan this year.

All of his potato crops consist of Rooster and were planted in a two week window in the spring. This meant that they were ready at the same time and he could have a clear run. He harvests with two Grimme GT 170 trailed harvesters straight into boxes.

On average, he can harvest around 17ac per day. The crop yields are reasonable this year and skin finish is good.

The boxes are loaded straight into his cold store where the temperatures are brought down to 3°C. He will start selling the crop next month, aiming to move two to three loads per week. This will continue to around May or June.

Brendan was able to follow the potato harvest with the ploughs and drill, sowing winter wheat.

He decided to sow the variety Graham at 172kg/ha and conditions were that good that he was able to roll fields after and apply a herbicide (Firebird at 0.3l/ha).

Earlier crops

His earlier sown winter wheat crops are coming along very well and are now at the two leaf stage. The crops received a herbicide application of Naceto (0.5l/ha) and will receive an aphicide in the coming days.

He is growing the winter barley varieties Belfry, LG Castings and Cassia this year. Belfry was sown at a rate of 100kg/ha, while the two-row varieties were sown at 180kg/ha.

The crops received a herbicide application of Naceto (0.3l/ha) and DFF (0.15l/ha) as well as an aphicide. Brendan’s Husky oats were sown at a rate of 156kg/ha and are just emerging.