Grass growth rates in 2024 continue to lag behind normal, with 0.6t DM/ha or 11% less grass grown this season compared to the five-year average.

Figures from PastureBase Ireland, Teagasc’s grass database, shows that 4.4t DM/ha has been grown on average so far this year, compared to 4.6t DM/ha grown by the same date last year, and the five-year average of over 5t DM/ha.

While current grass growth rates are normal, growth rates in April and May were significantly behind normal.

Growth rates in April 2024 were 25% behind the five-year average while May rates were 7% behind the five-year average and 12% behind on growth rates in May 2023.

According to Ciaran Hearn from Teagasc, this reduction in growth rate during the spring is not being compensated by higher than normal growth rates since and so most farms are behind in the amount of grass grown in 2024.

The reductions in grass growth rates come about despite the fact that May 2024 was the warmest May on record.

Cooler air temperatures over the last two weeks have reduced grass growth rates again and many farmers are in a grass deficit situation.

Across a 40ha farm, the reduction in growth for 2024 is equivalent to 24t of feed not grown. Given the prolonged winter and scarcity of silage, there are now growing concerns over silage stocks heading into next winter.

The reduction in growth comes about as farmers use less nitrogen fertiliser, with nitrogen sales back almost 7% between October and March.


Meanwhile, Teagasc has revised its fertiliser advice for clover paddocks, saying only paddocks with 25% or more clover is suitable for a significant reduction in nitrogen.

Previously, the advice was that any paddock with clover in April could be on a reduced rate during summer.