Cereal harvest for 2022 almost at an end for province

Apart from small areas of spring barley, the 2022 cereal harvest is now almost complete.

A DAERA spokesperson said: “Prolonged spells of good weather throughout July and August have allowed crops to be cut as they become ripe, with ample opportunities to get straw baled in good order. In the south and east spring barley harvest is well advanced with only some later drilled crops on heavier land remaining to be cut along with spring sown oats, wheat and beans.

“There has been a similar picture in the north of the province and most winter cereal harvest has been completed.

“However, spring crop has only recently become ready, and will be harvested at the next available weather window.

“This looks likely towards the end of this week given the current weather forecast.”
The spokesperson continued: “Generally yields are around average or slightly below with winter barley appearing to be the poorest performing crop so far this year, in some cases doing no better than spring barley on the same farm.

“Good spells of dry weather have meant a good deal of grain coming into store close to 15% giving a significant saving in drying costs.” 
“With an earlier harvest and less time spent drying grain and chasing straw, arable growers have been making use of the opportunity to sow oilseed rape or cover crops and carry out drainage work.

“Where grass weeds are a problem or straw has been chopped there still is a chance to lightly cultivate stale seedbeds to encourage a flush of weeds and incorporate chopped straw.”

Meanwhile, Co Down cereal grower Graham Furey is confirming that Take-all has had a major impact on both winter wheat and barley yields this year.

He explained: “The problem was added to by the very dry weather that was a feature of June and July.

“Take-all affects the roots of cereal crops, making water uptake poor enough at the best of times.

“So the dry weather in the weeks leading up to harvest magnified this issue. The end result was a fall-off in yields.

The Killyleagh man confirmed that the disease had impacted on wheat and barley crops in equal measure. He grows a mix of winter barley, wheat, oats and oilseed rape.

One upside to the continuing dry weather has been growers’ ability to get on with the 2022 harvest without interruption.

“There are no spring crops in the rotation at the present time,” said Furey.

“As a result we finished combing a week ago. Yields across all the crops were about average.”

Where winter barley is concerned, an insecticide was applied to all crops last autumn, as a means of keeping Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV) at bay.

“Normally, I wouldn’t go down this road for environmental reasons,” said Furey.

“But the weather after planting last year was extremely mild and there had been reports of growers in the Co Down area confirming large numbers of aphids in their fields.

“I used an insecticide on the barley, very much as an insurance policy. With hindsight, it was the right decision to take.”