Triticale results in less vermin in wild bird cover

Wild bird cover crops will be planted over the coming weeks and farmers who are sowing the crop should think about their mix carefully.

GLAS (Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme) Wild Bird Cover from John Howard in Co. Cork contains the exact amounts and varieties approved by the Department of Agriculture.

A major advantage of the mix is that it does not contain oats. John deliberately omits oats from his wild bird cover mixes, as oats tend to draw rats and crows to the crop.

Where farmers were plagued with rats during the winter, the cereal used in the wild bird cover crop appeared to be oats every time. This is why John advises against using oats in these plots. John uses triticale and it is actually the department’s preferred cereal option.

John forecasts that triticale will be in very short supply before the season is over, due to a poor harvest in Europe last year and as a result of extra demand.

Bright Seeds

John works closely with Chris Bright, of Bright Seeds in the UK, and was appointed as the company’s Irish agent three years ago. He regularly attends training days at Bright seeds in Salisbury to keep up to date with new varieties and game crop mixes.

Triticale is a hybrid cross between rye and wheat. It will grow in low-fertility soil and does not require a high soil pH.

Not to be sown in poor soil conditions

None of the department’s recommended seeds for wild bird cover crops will grow in bogs and participants should note that one of the rules of the scheme states that plots chosen for this option must be capable of producing the crop. By this, it means that the crop must be sown where it will grow.

Another advantage of triticale is that it stands all winter and rarely lodges. This in itself is a great positive because when the crop lodges, the food is on the ground and this attracts rats. Oats tend to lodge very early in the autumn.

Any food available during the winter months will attract vermin; but because triticale stays standing it won’t attract vermin in large numbers. Equally, it will not attract crows and pigeons at harvest time because the seed is enclosed in layers of chaff.

“Generally, the crows don’t bother with the triticale until December when all other food is scarce and – even then – it would not be their favourite choice,” explained John.

This is a very affordable mix that contains the exact ratios and varieties of seeds recommended by the Department of Agriculture.

The mix should be sown at a rate of 88kg/ha and is made up of:
  • Triticale – 75kg;
  • Linseed – 7.5kg;
  • Mustard – 5kg;
  • Phacelia – 50kg.

The phacelia is added to give it colour and life, as well as attracting bumble bees and butterflies. It is packed in 22kg bags and the recommended sowing rate is 88kg/ha (four bags) if direct drilling. That rate should be increased if broadcasting.

Key points on establishment:
  • The ground must be well cultivated, preferably ploughed every year;
  • The crop must be covered properly after sowing;
  • Drilling is the best option and this mix drills very well with all machines;
  • Keep crows off the field for approximately one week to prevent a clean out of triticale seed;
  • The first week is crucial to the establishment of the crop;
  • If broadcasting the seed, covering should be done with a light run of a power harrow, rotovator or Triple K;
  • Rolling after covering is not important, but it will help.

The seed is priced at €40.00/bag (ex Rathcormac). John offers a nationwide delivery using a local courier company. He also does regular delivery runs himself – all over the country – from Co. Cork to Co. Donegal, along the east coast, as well as the midlands, and links up with his clients in various towns along the way.

Discounts can be availed of for group purchasing of pallet lots and for bulk deliveries.

To purchase small lots of seed that will be delivered free of charge within two days of ordering online, Click here

Check out the website for a very informative and short power point presentation on sowing guidelines, which has answered many customer queries. Click here to see the presentation

Various other mixes such as the famous John’s Delight Game Crop and wildflower meadow mix are also available online.

Stockists for the GLAS Wild bird Cover:
  • McDonnell Bros, Coolagown and Saleen, Co. Cork. Call at: 025-31166;
  • Creamery Farm Supplies, Croom, Co. Limerick. Call at: 087-4155233;
  • O’Sullivan’s Beauford Bridge, Killarney, Co. Kerry. Call at: 064-6644397;
  • Pat Tierney Supplies, Kilkishen, Co. Clare. Call at: 086-2406035.

John has various other agents around the country such as gun clubs, contractors and advisors, who also stock this GLAS Wild Bird Cover Crop.

For the wildlife enthusiast or for the shooting fraternity, John has a superior wild bird cover called John’s Delight.

For more details, contact John at Sunnyside Fruit Ltd, Rathcormac, Co. Cork at 025-36253.