Ards growers take honours in 2016 Spring Barley competition

Pictured in the winning field of spring barley are William, David and Raymond Wilson.
Pictured in the winning field of spring barley are William, David and Raymond Wilson.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union along with the sponsors Clarendon Agri Care and Bayer Crop Science, sponsors of the UFU Spring Barley Cereal Competition, have again paid recognition to the first class growers here in Northern Ireland.

This year a prestigious first place was awarded to Raymond, William and David Wilson of the UFU Ards Group with their high quality crop of spring barley topping the judge’s score sheets. Securing a close second place was Jim Fulton of the NW Derry group. A respectable third place was then awarded to Johnathon and Neil Coleman of the Ballyclare group.

Commenting on winning this year’s competition William Wilson said: “The growing season this year presented a number of difficulties with crop growth slow to start off, but we were lucky that moisture arrived at just the right time to allow the crop to reach optimum growth levels.

“Each year arable farmers experience disease pressure, to combat this we implement a robust program to ensure diseases are kept at bay. This year was no different and we are pleased with the result that our tailored disease program delivered,” William said.

He added that weather permitting the Wilson family hope to harvest the crop at the beginning of September.

On behalf of the 2016 judges, Dr Ethel White (AFBI) said: “The judges were very satisfied with the overall standard of crops coming forward to the Northern Ireland final from the UFU group competitions.  Crops from across NI were judged, from Portaferry to Coleraine, Limavady, Ardstraw and Benburb, and many places in between.  Yield potential in all crops was high but some very heavy crops had lodged already. Disease control was good in most crops with net blotch and Ramularia being the most serious diseases seen on the leaves.  Fusarium was beginning to infect grains in several crops. Weed control was generally good with wild oats only being seen in a few crops. The difficult weather this spring has led to secondary growth in some cases, with this only becoming obvious as the crop begins to ripen, with these later tillers still being very green.”

Wendy Fearon on behalf of sponsors Clarendon Agri Care and Bayer Crop Science noted that the spring barley competition was judged in perfect conditions this year.

“The 2016 judging panel consisted of Ethel White, John McKee and myself. Due to the high quality of the entries we had a very tough task separating the winning entries. Unfortunately for some growers the extreme weather in the days between local judging and NI judging meant some crops had lodged badly. However competition winner, Raymond Wilson’s crop of Planet excelled overall. His knowledge on the combined agronomy and other aspects of cereal growing must be congratulated.”

UFU deputy president Victor Chestnutt praised the efforts of farmers who had produced excellent crops, noting that the spring barley competition had been closely fought between the top growers in Northern Ireland.

Victor said: “The standard of entries was once again exceptionally high and all finalists deserve recognition for the high quality crop they produce. I would like to thank sponsors Clarendon Agri Care and Bayer Crop Science for their support of the UFU cereals competition and also extend thanks to our UFU members and group office teams who made the competition possible.”