Replanting cereals…a last resort

Replanting isn’t a word that tillage farmers like to use, but unfortunately it will be carried out this spring in some areas as certain crops are simply not viable.

However, the decision is not one to be taken lightly and should only be taken as a last resort. That decision also needs to be based on information. Plant counts are essential.

AgriLand spoke to Shay Phelan – Teagasc tillage specialist – on the issue.

“There are a lot of fields out there that are less than optimum. Farmers are going to have to go out and do plant counts – establish what’s there and the size of the affected area,” Shay explained.

We need to be realistic about the economics of resowing in the spring.

“Some of the work we [Teagasc] would have done here would suggest that you need a substantially higher-yielding spring crop to compensate for the winter crop.

If you rip up a crop that’s sown, you still have to pay for the seed and the work that was done in the autumn, so those figures still have to be balanced out and accounted for in your costs for your spring crop.

Farmers should not make any hasty decisions when it comes to resowing.

“Our advice is to think very, very carefully about resowing. There are fields and areas within fields where there is no decision to make, but there are fields out there where there is some crop in it and you have to make the decision whether it’s worth bringing them through to harvest or not.”

Workload

When deciding to replant, the balance of workload also needs to be considered. Having a large amount of spring barley for example will require the work throughout the year to be carried out at the one time.

Spreading fertiliser, spraying and harvesting can all become pressure points, so this will contribute to the decision to resow or not.

Plant counts and crop management

When carrying out plant counts, Shay advised farmers that crops of two-row winter barley should have 120-150 plants/m² to be viable.

Winter wheat crops can be viable at 90-100 plants/m², provided that the plants are evenly spaced. Wheat has a better ability to compensate than barley.

Once you have plant numbers you can also decide on how to manage inputs for the crop. If crops have lower plant numbers than usual and are not going to reach the target yield then inputs should be reduced or the costs of those inputs may not be recovered.

“You need to cut your cloth to measure in terms of the inputs,” Shay concluded.

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