Better weather needed or farmers face harvest crisis

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The forecast gives the prospect of one or two drier days coming our way later in the week. Let’s hope this is the case. If not, the 2017 harvest looks set to become a real salvage job. And there are lots of farmers still hoping to get another crop of silage made before autumn really sets in. Many people seem to be of the view that September may not be a bad month, from a weather point of view. To be honest, I will believe that when I see it.

When the weather deteriorates, most livestock farmers have a Plan B: they can bring their cattle and sheep in until conditions improve. But for potato and cereal growers it really is a case of taking it all on the chin.

Northern Ireland’s arable sector has been battered by the weather like no other. One has only to think back to the summers of 2008 and 2009 and 2012 for confirmation of this. So let’s hope growers are allowed to get on with things, working with the weather – rather than fighting against it – during the late summer and autumn of 2017.

There is no other industry so dependent on the weather than is agriculture. It is possible to control many aspects of a farm business but when it comes to nature’s most powerful force we all have to accept what comes our way. Numerous conferences have been held over recent months, focussing on the issue of Global Warming. But who knows? The scientists might be wrong.

Irrespective of what happens in the future, no one can deny that it rains a lot in Northern Ireland. In many other parts of the world water availability is the all-important limiting factor when it comes to determining crop yields. This is rarely a problem for us, which is why our farming industry is so inherently productive. But too much of a good thing is bad: so let’s hope the rain doesn’t outstay its welcome during the weeks ahead!