Expecting a certain grass growth rate and then getting a lower one is one of the most frustrating aspects of managing mid-season grass.

Looking at Pasturebase grass growth figures for the past week, the average growth rate across the country was in between 50kg and 60kg/ha/day range.

For early June, this is a poor growth rate by anyone’s yardstick and it’s particularly poor given that grass growth rates and weather have been below expectations for all season.

Most farmers would reasonably expect to grow 70kg to 80kg/ha/day at this time of year, so actually getting a growth rate of 20kg or more below that will put those farms into a grass deficit fairly quickly.


Why the reduction in growth? It is hard to say for sure but according to Met Eireann data, air temperatures are lower than normal and sunlight was also lower than normal in most of the weather stations that measure it.

However, soil temperatures continue to be ahead of normal. Other factors possible have got to do with how much nitrogen has been applied, how much topping has been carried out and general soil fertility.

Not enough nitrogen and too much topping will reduce grass growth rates sharply. The bad news is that the weather forecast is predicting lower than normal air temperatures for the coming week too.

Target average farm cover at this stage is around 180kg per cow. Farms that are significantly below this and where growth rates are lower than demand will have to either bring in additional area or reduce demand by feeding more supplements.