Alex has been very busy in the past few weeks between planting crops and cutting silage.

He has finished planting maize and spring oilseed rape, with only a pea crop destined for wholecropping left to be drilled. There were high winds in Westmeath last week, and this pulled some of the plastic off the maize despite the sower burying it well. Alex isn’t too worried as the maize still got over two weeks under cover.

There is a big difference between the early and late sown organic spring oats. Alex says the later fields will not be able to outcompete the weeds, which will affect both yield and the ease of harvesting.

Some spring barley looks excellent, but some patches of it have slug damage.

Organic manure applications

All fields have been top-dressed to between 94 and 125kg N/ha, depending on the crop rotation and organic manure applications. An aphicide and manganese will be applied this week.

The spring beans also have some slug damage but Alex expects the crop to grow out of it.

Stealth has been applied to control bean weevil.

The spring beans on Alex's farm are growing strongly in the warm weather.

The organic winter oats look promising. They have stayed quite clean and are not too tall. Alex is very interested to see how the crop will yield.

The winter oilseed rape received Shepherd and trace elements at petal fall and is now into pod fill. Alex is really happy with the crop. He says one field was unintentionally grazed by sheep for a few weeks over the winter, and while it looked very poor after this, he says it has recovered exceptionally well and looks similar to other fields, with the same level of nitrogen.

The winter barley looks better since it headed out but Alex doesn’t expect huge yields. The winter wheat received its flag leaf spray last week, consisting of Revystar XL (1.3l/ha), Stavento (1.5l/ha), Medax Max (0.35kg/ha), Tebucur (0.4l/ha), and trace elements.

Disease levels are relatively low considering the poor weather this year.

Pádraig has been busy spraying in recent weeks. He is quite happy with most of his crops at present.

The winter barley received its final spray on 15 May, consisting of Tokyo (0.5l/ha), Silvron (0.5l/ha), Colorado (1.25l/ha), and NTS Trio (1l/ha). Some of the barley only got 188kg N/ha, rather than 200kg N/ha, but this area received Vixeran at GS37, the new nitrogen-fixing biostimulant, so Pádraig is interested to see how it fares this year.

The winter wheat received a T2 spray of Aquino (1.9l/ha), Turret 60 (0.95l/ha), and Colorado (1.5l/ha) on 20 May. It looks OK and is quite clean.

This has been kept out of the Straw Incorporation Measure as Pádraig has been able to forward sell it to a local farmer.

The spring beans look good. There were no bird issues during emergence and the pre-emergence herbicide has given good weed control.

Spring barley

The spring oats are quite lush. On 22 May, Pádraig applied Galaxy to control corn marigold (1l/ha), Inka Max SX (45g/ha), Karate Zeon (50mL/ha), Talius (0.2l/ha), and trace elements.

The spring barley is tillering and is very lush. Pádraig says it’s nearly like silage. It received a herbicide, an aphicide, and trace elements last week. Some of the barley also received a plant growth regulator of CeCeCe 750 at 0.5l/ha to try even out the crop and ensure it doesn’t get too lush.

Ten hectares of barley that was planted in marginal conditions and received no slurry prior to ploughing is now a bit thin. Therefore, Pádraig will come back in this week with CeCeCe 750 (1l/ha) and also Phyllgreen seaweed extract (1l/ha) to try thicken the crop up.

Pádraig has also been busy sowing arable margins beside watercourses and any hedges that shade the field a lot causing crops to never ripen fully.

He is planting a cover crop mix here. He is doing this of his own accord and it is not part of any scheme.

The weather has been mixed in Down, but there have been opportunities for Neill to get out into his fields to get some spraying done.

The gates are now closed on the winter barley. It received Siltra Xpro (0.7l/ha), Mirror (1l/ha), Medax Max (0.5kg/ha), and N16 (20l/ha). Neill has been using N16, a foliar nitrogen, for a number of years and says there is a definite yield increase through using it. The barley has good potential this year, and just needs some sunshine now to fill the grains. The winter wheat looks good, but septoria has come into it in the past month.

Neill spraying his spring beans to control bean weevils.

However, it is staying on the lower leaves so far. BYDV symptoms have also become evident in the past 10 days, and Neill is unsure of the impact this will have on the crop’s yield.

On 7 May, the last split of nitrogen was applied, bringing the crop to a total of 238kg N/ha.

Flag leaf spray

Neill is pushing this wheat to try to maximise the crop’s yield, with this level of nitrogen allowed due to previous high yields. He then came back a few days later with the flag leaf spray, consisting of Verydor XE at 1.2l/ha, Mirror at 1l/ha, Medax Max at 0.4kg/ha, and N16 at 15l/ha. Graham also received Tebucur at 1l/ha to control yellow rust.

The March-planted spring beans are just beginning to flower and look quite good. However, chocolate spot has come into the crop earlier than Neill has ever seen, so he applied the first fungicide a bit earlier than usual on 24 May. Signum (0.7kg/ha) and trace elements were applied.

The forage maize is now well up through the plastic. Neill says it has thrived in the recent warm and damp weather, and that the new bioplastic has really helped the maize to a quick start.

Despite a good pre-emergence herbicide, some weeds are now competing with the maize, so Neill plans to go back in next week with a follow-up herbicide.