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Tillage Update August 6th

In this week's Tillage Update, Eoin Lyons highlights the ongoing impact of the unsettled weather on harvesting & yields. Eoin analyses the performance of oil seed rape & identifies it as a popular cropping choice this autumn. Finally, Eoin looks forwards at the winter wheat & spring barley harvest.

The unsettled spell of weather did not ease much during the past week which has meant that harvest progress has been somewhat limited across the country. However, there were some brief opportunities to get combines out and as a result the majority of winter barley and oats in the midlands and north east has now been harvested, with yields remaining poor. Harvest progress further south has been somewhat slower as crops took longer to ripen and there is still approximately 20-25% of winter barley yet to be harvested. Yields of winter barley in the south are good with some yields above 10t/ha and many just below this figure. Reports on winter oats are very similar to winter barley with location and soil type playing a major role in final yield and quality with yields ranging from anywhere between 5 t/ha up to 10 t/ha. Oil seed rape harvesting has also commenced in many parts with varying areas harvested again depending on location. Early yield reports suggest that the crop is performing well with yields of between 4.2 and 5 t/ha. With an attractive forward sell price for oil seed rape currently, it could be a popular cropping choice for growers this autumn.     

There has been little or no straw baled during the past week as frequent showers are eliminating any window for baling to take place. Most straw has now been sitting in fields for a long period of time and in most cases will require turning before baling. With yields of straw already significantly reduced compared to normal, the delay in baling may further reduce yields. With demand for straw already high, this delay in getting straw baled is likely to further heighten demand.

Many growers will now be looking forward to both the winter wheat and spring barley harvest. Reports from around the country suggest that the winter wheat harvest will commence as soon as a weather window is available. The spring malting barley harvest did commence over the past week with some early February drilled crops harvested that were destined for the distilling market. The majority of March drilled spring barley will require another 5-10 days of ripening before being ready for harvest. The issue of secondary growth and green tillers has not gone away in spring barley. There are varying degrees of regrowth in fields, with some confined to particular areas in fields while others are throughout the field. The use of glyphosate pre-harvest is permitted but only if there is a grass weed problem in the field. The situations where its use is prohibited are listed below;

  • Seed or Malting barley crops
  • crops where straw is destined for the mushroom market
  • use of glyphosate as a harvest aid
  • crops with no weeds 

Most spring barley crops that are eligible for desiccation are now at the correct stage for glyphosate to be applied. The best timing is when main crop is at 30% MC (when the grain will take and hold a thumb nail indent).