Midsummer’s Day is almost with us and a good week’s weather right now could do Irish agriculture a power of good.

The sun is now at its strongest – we are promised 17 or more hours of daylight at this time of the year.

So, if that yellow ball in the sky does come out to play and temperatures do start to rise, just think of the beneficial impact it will have on crops across the country.

Winter barley, wheat and oats need plenty of sunlight and heat in order to maximise grain fill.

Meanwhile, spring cereal crops need the same drivers to optimise growth rates, as they strive to catch up for the late planting dates that many tillage farmers registered this year.

Where potatoes are concerned, recent days have seen the very last of this year’s crops planted out. They got the rain of a few days ago – now they need plenty of heat and sunlight.

Dry weather also reduces disease levels within all crops, particularly in cereals and potatoes. A lower threat of disease reduces the need to apply costly fungicide sprays.

Potato growers in particular will be hoping for decent weather throughout the growing season of 2024, as they confront the challenge of new blight strains, including the one that everyone is talking about, EU 43.

Midsummer’s Day

The coming weeks will also see children kicking-off their summer holidays. It goes without saying that all farmers and contractors should be extra vigilant with young children around, as it is one of the busiest times of the year on farms and on our rural roads.

But, it is worth consciously slowing down, so as to ensure that everyone is kept safe at all times.

Let me end with a University Challenge ‘starter for 10’ question – what is the difference between the Summer Solstice and Midsummer’s Day.

Until recently, I thought they were one and the same thing, but this is not the case. The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year (June 21).

Midsummer’s Day, on the other hand, is celebrated across most of Europe three days later, on June 24.