While winter sown crops may have come out of the winter in reasonable shape, the spring of 2021 gave growers plenty to think about.

Teagasc tillage specialist, Ciaran Collins explains: “In a lot of cases, the cold frosty nights prevented growers from getting a growth regulator on to the likes of winter barley.

“But the upside was the lack of disease in crops. There were little bits of rhynco in winter barley crops early in the season.

“But across the board crops were disease-free in relative terms. We did have some yellow rust in winter wheat. But septoria, particularly early in the season, wasn’t a massive challenge,” he added.

But there is some post-harvest evidence indicating that late frost damage did affect final grain yields in some crops.

“This may well have been the case in some crops of winter barley,” confirmed Collins.

“There was also some reference in the media to this also being the case in some crops of oats. However, the harvest figures show that final winter oat yields were well up across the board.”

Crops in the Straw Incorporation Measure

Teagasc has confirmed that oat crops have featured very heavily in the new Straw Incorporation Measure.

Ciaran Collins stated: “I think in general terms that it would be considered a success.

“We have still a lot to learn about incorporation, particularly in years when high volumes of straw are produced. And this was very much the case in 2021.

“There was €10 million available for the scheme and between €8.5 and €9 million availed of. So, in those terms alone, the scheme must be considered a success,” he added.

“Farmers looked for it and it was there. Demand and supply were well matched this year, where straw is concerned. As a consequence, the straw incorporation scheme didn’t create any deficit in the market.”

According to Collins, the Straw Incorporation Measure is directly supporting Irish tillage farmers.

“There are also the benefits to be gained in terms of improving soil health,” he said.

“In general terms most farmers had no problem getting straw incorporated. Nor did this process interfere with any follow-on planting operations.

“But we still have a lot to learn about straw incorporation. I know that some farmers had an issue getting some catch crops established in the wake of incorporating the straw from the previous harvest.

“But the fact they were using a min-till approach to get the new crop sown out and previous straw yields were just so heavy might have had a lot to do with this,” he concluded.