Good seed-bed preparation is proving its worth in the south-east

Good seed-bed preparation is proving to be a critical factor on cereal farms in the south-east this spring, according to Teagasc Tillage Advisor Ciaran Hickey.

“It’s turning out that the roller has been the most useful implement on grain farms over recent weeks.

“Spring crops have established well. But given the continuing dry spell, those crops that were sown into a good seed-bed, which was subsequently rolled, have been less exposed to moisture stress.”

The Enniscorthy-based advisor confirmed that the rain of last weekend had been widely welcomed by cereal growers in the Wexford area.

“Many farmers had top-dressed crops with nitrogen in anticipation of the rain coming,” he said.

“Given the current pressure on grain prices, growers must manage crops in the most efficient way possible. There is a limited window of opportunity to get husbandry operations completed at the right time.

If these targets are not met, then final yields and overall margins will suffer accordingly.

Hickey said that winter crops are a week ahead of what was the case last year.

“Awns are now starting to appear in advanced winter barley crops. Last year, this did not start to happen until May 10.

“The dry spell is also reducing the disease pressure on cereals. This is good news for growers. From what I can gauge most farmers are on top of any disease pressure that might be coming on their crops.”

Hickey indicated that cereal growers in the Wexford area are turning away from winter wheat, in favour of crops like spring beans.  

“Winter wheat ties up a lot of money and crops are in the ground for a long time. In contrast, there is a subsidy available on beans.

“In addition, beans are a relatively cheap crop to grow. They also represent an excellent break crop. I recently inspected a number of very impressive wheat crops that had directly followed spring beans.”