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Tillage update January 6th

Autumn 2021 was the warmest on record for Ireland. This is reflected in autumn planted cereals and oilseed rape where crop growth has been exceptional. Tillage Specialist Ciaran Collins gives an update on recently visited crops-.

One of the stand out messages from the recently published Met Eireann weather and climate review for 2021 is that Autumn 2021 was the warmest on record for Ireland. 

A recent visit to a number of crops in East Cork and West Waterford over the Christmas period revealed above average development for the time of year.

Winter Barley

Early to mid-October planted winter barley has two to three tillers but some individual plants had up to four tillers. The most advanced crop I visited was an early planted crop of Belfry which is well placed to achieve 750+ shoots having established 190 plants/m² with two to three strong tillers present. The new variety Tardis looked well with its distinctive broad leaves.     

A healthy green colour has returned to winter barley as growth has slowed into the winter. All the crops I walked were disease free but there has been numerous reports of net blotch in winter barley this year. This is mainly where winter barley followed barley and while it is not a major concern at the moment it may provide inoculum for infection in the spring and needs to be monitored.

All the crops I visited were sprayed with an insecticide at GS 13 and there were no aphids present but mild weather at Christmas following a warm autumn is concerning.

Winter Wheat

The winter wheat (Graham and Costello) is well established but slug damage is evident in a crop following oilseed rape. All had received an autumn herbicide and there was no evidence of grass weeds. Pre emergence Firebird 0.3L/ha gave good control of cleavers but a follow up treatment on the headlands may be required in the spring. Volunteer beans were evident in wheat after beans and while some are controlled, a spring herbicide will be needed to control later germinators that came from depth.

Oilseed Rape

Late August Oilseed rape has a large canopy and there is potential for big savings on nitrogen in the spring. But pigeons are having their say and have started grazing weaker parts of the field. An assessment on nitrogen rates will made from the middle of February onwards or when growth has restarted properly with the aim of achieving a Green Area Index (GAI) of 3.5 at the beginning of flowering.

Tillage Edge Podcast

This week Michael Hennessy talks to Will Stokes, a tillage farmer in Tipperary, who is participating in the Signpost Farm programme.  

Will and his Teagasc advisor, Conor Kavanagh, discuss how Will is making changes on his farm, particularly around caring for the soils.

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