It’s been a tremendous start to the tillage year, in some cases beyond some growers’ most vivid imaginations.

All of this begs the question -could we, actually, be looking at two positive years for Irish tillage in succession?

Sceptics will say that it’s far too early to be even considering such a positive prospect.

However, the latest crops update from Teagasc gives rise to the belief that arable farmers can, at least, dream of such an eventuality.

It seems that all autumn-planted cereal crops have come through the winter months, pretty much, unscathed. Tiller numbers are high and disease levels are relatively low.

Adding to the bounce in tillage farmers’ steps is the prospect of a decent week’s weather on the way.

The coming days should allow them to tackle whatever disease issues are out there and to get on with the first of this year’s fertiliser applications.

Ground conditions for tillage

Drying ground conditions are also critically important on tillage farms at this time of the year.

The earlier in March that spring crops can be established, the greater the potential for a decent return come harvest.

Again, the prospects of a decent week’s weather will help the cause in this regard no end.

And then there is the ever evolving application of science. The use of Green Area Index (GAI) values for rape crops and the accompanying phone app represent a very relevant case in point.

The specific advice given by Teagasc on how growers can make best use of fertiliser and animal manures over the coming weeks has been excellent.

One of the most obvious examples of this has been the effective highlighting of the aforementioned GAI value for rape crops and how these can be used to tailor subsequent N applications.   

But, of course, we have not yet reached the mid-point of March. Lots of things can – and probably will – happen between now and the 2022 harvest.

As we all know is that the weather rarely plays ball in this country on a consistent basis.

So that is a very much wait-and-see issue. However, where the world’s grain markets are concerned, there is a fair deal of certainty coming into play right now.

There is now a tremendous degree of anticipation that cereal prices will hold up well for the rest of this year.

And, if this does turn out to be the case, it will do a lot to take the edge off the current fertiliser ‘angst’ that is permeating all aspects of Irish farming at the present time.