Winter barley – a tale of rotation in the south-east

Harvesting is well underway in the south-east and the focus has turned to combining winter oats in recent days.

Speaking with AgriLand earlier this week, George Blackburn, of the Cooney Furlong Grain Company, said winter barley is still being cut in the Wexford region.

While winter barley yields are very variable – ranging from 3t/ac to 4.5t/ac – better crops are achieving yields of over 4.5t/ac.

“Good crops are doing 4.5t/ac plus, with 4.8t/ac recorded in one particular field. All the better yields are coming after break crops.

Winter barley crops coming after oats, beans and oilseed rape are yielding, on average, 0.6-0.7t/ac more.

The agronomist explained how problems with take-all have been seen in crops following winter what and spring barley – emphasising the importance of a good crop rotation.

With regards to grain quality, six-row hybrids are busheling at 63-66 and two-row Cassia crops are producing bushel weights of 65-70. Moisture levels are coming in at around 17-18%, Blackburn reported.

“Six-row varieties seem to have performed well on heavier ground and crops sown later in October have yielded better, having come under less pressure.”

Blackburn added that the seed dressing Redigo Deter is essential now for preventing the spread of barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV).

Overall, Blackburn seemed happy with the performance so far this year. However, nationally, yields are probably back 0.3-0.4t/ac across the board, he said.

Drought experienced during grain fill may be a contributing factor to this in the south-east of the country on the lighter soils.

“You will find that the farmers with the better yields have good fertiliser regimes and well-timed spray programmes,” Blackburn pointed out.

winter oats barley south east yield rotation blackburn
Image source: Shane Casey

Winter oats and oilseed rape

There has been a good bit of winter oats coming into the Enniscorthy-based merchant in the last few days, according to Blackburn.

“Yields are ranging from 3.25t/ac up to 4t/ac in the region.

“KPHs are excellent at 52-55 on well-thrashed samples; but there is a small issue with combines not cleaning samples enough – this can be sorted with a little tweaking.

The addition of trace elements: manganese; foliar potash; and a bit of boron is really making a difference to the overall quality of the grain.

“Oats sprayed robustly for crown rust are achieving the best results; this is particularly important in south Wexford, given the coastal location of crops,” Blackburn explained.

Winter oilseed rape is also doing well. He attributed this to a prolonged flowering period.

“Yields of 1.6-2t/ac are being seen and 1.7-1.8t/ac is catching the majority of the crops. Moisture levels are coming in at 9-10%,” he said.

No winter wheat is in just yet, but according to Blackburn crops look to have good potential and will probably be a week earlier this year.