Teagasc tillage advisors around the country are confirming that spring barley crops planted out in March are looking well.

The same cannot be said, however, for crops sown out in April.

Martin McCullough, Teagasc environment and technology advisor, confirmed that spring barley is the largest crop grown in Donegal.

“I am not sure if we dodged the bullet this year. The majority of spring-cropping only got underway around April 12 and 13,” he said.

“Prior to that we had a few very wet weeks directly following St. Patrick’s Day.

“But weather conditions did pick up a little bit after that. So they got a good enough start and, at this stage, they are looking very well.

“There have been no major disease issues reported in spring barley and spring oat crops up to this point.

“We are in a good position at the moment. But the next few weeks will tell the tale.”

Northeastern counties

According to Co. Dublin-based advisor Conor O’Callaghan, drought was a bit of an issue with spring cereals in the northeast early on.

“Lack of moisture led to a non-uniform germination. But once crops got going out, they tillered out really well,” he said.

“Given the high numbers of ears and heads, there is a good potential for good crops of spring barley this year.

“Disease levels were relatively low. All things considered, crops look extremely promising.”

The tillage specialist confirmed that bean crops look equally promising.

“There were a few problems caused by chocolate spot and downy mildew early in the season,” he continued.

“But they seem to have come through that. The chocolate spot is obvious in the lower leaves. And in some cases the disease is now starting to creep upwards.

“There’s a good number of pods on most plants; from 14 up to the high 20s. What’s more, these are all at a nice height for the combine.

“Hopefully, the weather will stay with us and these crops will yield well,” he added.

Spring barley crops in Cork

In contrast, a significant number of spring barley crops in Cork have not fared well this year.

“It has been a year of deficiencies,” said Teagasc’s Michael McCarthy.

“Every deficiency that could have impacted on spring barley crops has come into play this year.

“There was a week-long window of an opportunity to get spring crops into the ground around St. Patrick’s Day,” he continued.

“Then the weather broke and it was April before they got back.

“There is a remarkable difference in the crops planted out in March relative to those established in April.”

According to McCarthy, the time to plant spring barley this year was March. He pointed out that a number of April-sown crops have struggled since the beginning.

“There have been germination issues. In addition, compaction problems have also arisen, where they have never shown up before,” he said.

“A good half of the spring barley in Cork this year was sown out in April. But you would have to say that many of these crops have been affected by the very unfavourable weather conditions,” McCarthy concluded.