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Good Yield Potential in Tillage Crops despite Difficult Spring

The medium to long term prospects for tillage farmers in Ireland are good, according to John Spink, Head of Teagasc Crops Research in Oak Park, Carlow. Addressing 1,000 tillage farmers attending a Teagasc Crops Open Day today, Wednesday, 26 June, he said that growers need to continuously strive to exploit the high yield potential in Ireland, by getting their technology right, using the most appropriate crop varieties and through the precise application of inputs.

John Spink said that difficult weather conditions for establishing crops last autumn, the long winter and the late cold spring made for a difficult start to year. But he said that despite this, most crops that were established in reasonable conditions have recovered well and have largely compensated for the delay in crop growth and development earlier in the year. So, at present yield potential for the harvest looks reasonably good. Winter wheat, winter barley and oat crops are all looking good and showing potential, while most spring barley crops have recovered well, especially those where good establishment took place.

Updates on the possibility to breed wheat varieties for septoria resistance were presented at the Open Day. Up to 34 lines have been screened for septoria resistance over 3 years. Lines with good septoria resistance under Irish conditions have been selected. Researchers have identified genes linked to pathways underlying Septoria resistance and the genes will be used to assist future breeding of better varieties. This has the potential to improve profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of wheat production at farm level.

Growers were urged to test their soils regularly to monitor soil P and K fertility levels. By using soil fertility levels to calculate P and K fertiliser rates there is an opportunity to maximise profits. Research has shown a yield response from using different application methods of P fertiliser. On low P fertility soils, there are yield benefits from combine drilling P fertiliser at sowing time, compared to broadcasting it on the surface.

Paddy Browne, Head of the Teagasc Crops, Environment and Land Use Programme, said that the Teagasc crops research programme and the advisory service is focussed on providing the highest quality technical information that will be required by the industry to make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead.

At the Open Day farmers could discuss opportunities to fill fodder deficits on livestock farms from tillage crops. Information on making whole crop cereal silage and the possibilities of buying and treating grain off the combine were presented.