Our Organisation Search
Quick Links
Toggle: Topics

Tillage Update 7th April 2022

Shay Phelan, Teagasc Crops & Potato Specialist advises farmers not finished sowing spring barley yet to aim to complete sowing soon if soil conditions are suitable. Crow damage is affecting some crops of beans - the advice is to walk your crop. Shay has fertiliser guidance for winter crops also

Photo above: Tramlines visible is the best timing for N on malting barley

Spring barley

Most crops are sown at this stage with many of them emerging this week, for crops destined for malting these crops will need their top dressing with nitrogen as soon as you can see the tramlines. This will give the best chance for these crops to meet the protein specifications come harvest time. 

For those not finished sowing yet aim to complete sowing as soon as possible but only if soils conditions are suitable. Many parts of the country especially the west and north have had plenty of rain this week so make sure seed beds are good enough to drill otherwise establishment may be below optimum. Where possible combine drill fertiliser with the seed especially in index 1 & 2 soils otherwise incorporate the compound fertiliser into the seedbed before drilling.

For crops going into fields as part of the Tillage Incentive Scheme (TIS) be on the lookout for wireworm and or leatherjacket damage. Flocks of crows “grazing” the fields can often be a sign that there may be an issue, crows may be digging the grain but they may also be after leatherjackets especially if the activity is greater in the evening. Where there is a leatherjacket problem use a flat roller to roll the field again do this in the evening when the pests are more likely to be near the soil surface.


Crops are now emerging with reports that poor seedbeds and crow damage are affecting the establishment of many crops. Growers need to walk crops and carry out plant counts, the target is to have 30-35 plants/m2 established lower stands than this will struggle to achieve decent yields, where areas have been completely wiped out then decisions will have to be made whether to re-sow or not. Where there has been significant crow damage the efforts will have to be made to scare them off if you opt to re-drill, otherwise they are likely to repeat the damage. 

Winter cereals

Crops are progressing slowly despite all the dry weather. Frosts last week seem to have slowed down the development of crops and although many of them are looking quite tall the growth stages are about normal for this time of year. The last application of nitrogen for winter barley will be due in the coming week or so even though some have only recently received their main split. Remember in 4-5 weeks these crops will be heading out and so have a big demand for nitrogen at this time of year.

Winter wheat crops will also need the main split of nitrogen by mid-April, this is usually 50% of the total amount you intend to apply. While oats should receive their second application of nitrogen by GS 31/32, research from Oak Park shows that a 50:50 split of nitrogen works best in terms of yield.

Disease levels are reported as low in most crops with many barley crops yet to receive a fungicide application these will now use a two spray strategy at GS 31/32 and at awns emerging. Leaf 4 applications are not justified on wheat anymore unless you have yellow rust as the options available are very limited.

There are some reports of certain plant production products being scarce so growers should plan ahead and order in advance of when the sprays will be needed. This will ensure that you get what you need and also that there are no delays when crops need to be sprayed. 

Tillage Edge Podcast

Eoin Lyons, the Teagasc Boortmalt joint program advisor, joined this week’s Tillage Edge podcast to discuss the management of malting barley over the coming weeks.

Find out more information and advice from the Teagasc Crops team here.   The Teagasc Crops Specialists issue an article on a topic of interest to tillage farmers every Thursday on Teagasc Daily.  Find your local Teagasc office here