Grass growth rates turn for the better

After a challenging period of summer drought, grass growth rates are starting to move in the right direction.

Figures from PastureBase Ireland show that grass growth rates are strongest in the west and north, with growth rates of 70kg/ha/day and 67kg/ha/day recorded in Connacht and Ulster respectively. Some heavy soils are experiencing very high growth rates (80-100kg/ha/day), particularly in the north-west region.

Meanwhile, grass growth rates in Leinster and Munster are proving slower to move. An average growth rate of 50kg/ha/day was recorded in Munster, while Leinster was just 4kg/ha/day ahead at 54kg/ha/day.

Image source: PastureBase Ireland

Soil moisture deficits

Soil moisture deficits are remaining stubbornly high in the south and east of the country, according to Met Eireann.

A slow improvement was noted in recent days, but values continue to range between 50mm and 60mm. In the west and north, recent rainfall has reduced soil moisture deficits. Meanwhile, drying conditions are likely to be about average for this time of year in the coming days.

Image source: Met Eireann

Met Eireann also forecasts that rainfall for the coming week will be around normal for most of the country, but above normal in the north and along the west coast. The bulk of this rain is expected on Saturday.

Grass advice

When it comes to managing grass during the month of August, Teagasc offers the following advice:

  • The target rotation length for August is 30 days to build grass for the autumn. Supplementation will have to continue to build grass on farms (about 300kg/LU by August 31);
  • Keep silage ground closed after second cut and aim to harvest a third cut on this ground. Fertilise accordingly;
  • Continue to graze to 4cm;
  • It is clear from PastureBase Ireland farms that growth rate has increased over the last seven days. Farms must be walked weekly to monitor grass supply and to build grass for the autumn;
  • There is rain in the forecast for this week. This is an opportunity for farmers to spread fertiliser to build grass for the autumn.