Watch: Harvest kicks off…action from Kilkenny

The harvest kicked off for some farmers over the past few days and in a rare occurrence most of the combines which were moving early were further north than usual.

One farmer who made it out to the fields over the weekend was James O’Reilly from Co. Kilkenny.

The crop of Belfry (six-row hybrid) winter barley came in at moisture contents in the region of 19% and 20% and James reported a yield of 4.1t/ac. Quality was also good, particularly for this early stage of the season, with KPH readings of 65 and 66.

James started cutting on Saturday evening and delivered to Connolly’s Red Mills. The majority of his winter barley won’t be ready until the middle of this week.

“The crops were only just barely fit. It was hard to get the awn off the barley. It was borderline,” he noted.

The barley harvested on Saturday and Sunday was planted from October 10 to 13, and thinking back on the difficult autumn James explained that the headlands of some of these fields were planted a week later and have yet to be harvested.

By Wednesday or Thursday of this week James expects to be moving again, but he is not as hopeful about the yields.

I’m expecting those figures to drop back. I reckon if I average 3.8t/ac I’ll be happy or even 3.7t/ac, because the later the drilling, the patchier the crops.

“We were heading into wetter soil [at sowing] and unfortunately it didn’t get its head above ground before it got drowned in places. I did lose a few headlands of barley here and there that I put into a spring crop of beans that I’ll never harvest.”

James noted that he plants winter oilseed rape after his winter barley crops. He desiccated his winter oilseed rape last week and will harvest in two to two-and-a-half weeks’ time.

Image source: James O’Reilly

Cutting back on fungicides

All of the remaining winter barley is Belfry. James is very happy with how the six-row hybrid performs and the savings he has made on fungicides.

“The one thing I will say about the hybrid varieties is they were grown with about €22/ac worth of fungicides [plus VAT]. They have quite good disease resistance.

This year, I was able to pull back a little bit more than I normally do and, although the price of the seed is quite expensive, if you box clever with the fungicides you can pull back that extra spend.

James noted that once you stay on top of growth regulation, the disease resistance profile is excellent and he also thinks the vigor helps crops planted on land which is not necessarily suitable for winter barley.


James told AgriLand that straw quality is very good, but yield is back on last year. The next few days will give a clearer picture of how crops will perform.

Next on the list

The winter barley will be tidied up in a couple of days and winter oats will be next on the list. James added that he has a crop of winter oats on light land that suffered badly with the drought and it will be the first to be harvested.

He expects the remaining winter oats to follow quickly and winter oilseed rape should be ready once the oats are complete. Winter wheat is currently looking like it may approach harvest in early to mid August.