The first of this year’s winter barley crops could be ready for the combine in around 10 days’ time, according to Wexford-based Teagasc tillage advisor John Pettit.

“This might well be the case in a number of the drier areas, where sandy soils predominate,” he said.

“I looked at some barley crops around Blackwater recently and a further 10 or 11 days should do them. In the rest of the county, most winter barley crops will be ready for harvest in about a fortnight’s time.”

Pettit believes that barley crops should average between 3.7t/ac to 3.8t/ac this year.

“Crops yielding in excess of 4t/ac would be exceptional,” he said.

Despite the current dry weather, Pettit is recommending barley growers to spray off crops with Roundup prior to harvest.

“It only costs about €2/ac. The recommended application rate is 1L/ac,” he said.

“By taking this approach, growers can expect to reduce moisture levels by up to 1.5% acrss the board. This effect will be proportionately higher in barleys that followed a break crop.”

Pettit cited a range of other benefits to be gained from a pre-harvest Roundup treatment. These include cleaner straw and easier combining conditions. Green areas adjacent to tram lines will also benefit from this approach.

But Pettit questioned the assumption that going in with a pre harvest spray treatment reduced the herbicide requirement when it comes to establishing the subsequent crop.

“It all depends on how much grain is thrown out the back end of the combine,” he said.

“If this is kept at manageable levels, then the number of volunteer plants growing up prior to the next round of soil cultivation might be manageable enough.

“Each crop must be judged on its own merits.”

Meanwhile, growers in the North East are indicating that it could be closer to the end of July before the first of this year’s barley crops are ready for harvest.