Has spring finally arrived?

Although the weather forecast for the next few days isn’t that good, most farmers will agree that the spring of 2014  has been very kind to them – so far. The grazing season is now well underway in every part of the country and given the recent improvement in grass growth rates, no doubt significant numbers of dairy cows and beef cattle will enjoy fresh grass over the coming days. But a couple of weeks’ decent  weather doesn’t make a summer, so hopefully the sun will stay around for the next couple of month.

When the weather deteriorates, most livestock farmers have a Plan B: they can bring their cattle and sheep in until conditions improve. But for cereal and potato growers it really is a case of taking it all on the chin. Ireland’s tillage sector has been battered like no other, in the wake of the monsoons and storms that have been a feature of the past few years. So let’s hope growers are allowed to get on with things, working with the weather – rather than fighting against it – during the spring and summer months of 2014.

There is no other industry so dependent on the weather than is agriculture. It is possible to control many aspects of a farm business but when it comes to nature’s most powerful force we all have to accept what comes our way.  Numerous conferences have been held over recent months, focussing on the issue of Global Warming. However, given the winter we have just endured, many sceptics are saying that the planet may not be heating up at all and that the scientists have got their predictions wrong.

Irrespective of what happens in the future, no one can deny that it rains a lot in Ireland. In many other parts of the world water availability is the all-important limiting factor when it comes to determining crop yields. This is rarely a problem for us, which is why our farming industry is so inherently productive. But too much of a good thing is bad: so let’s hope the rain doesn’t outstay its welcome during the weeks and months ahead!