Earlier this week I heard of a potato grower in Co. Antrim who has lost almost 100ac of crop to weather-related blight.
This is a truly professional guy who would, normally, adhere to all the advised spraying programmes.
The north of the country has had to cope with unrelenting rain for the past six weeks. And this has had a very dramatic impact on soil conditions and field trafficability.
The story I am hearing is that the grower in question missed his timings with one blight spray and he is now dealing with the consequences.
There might well be other factors coming into play; I don’t know.
But it is safe to assume that the weather is having a big influence on almost all farming operations at the present time.
The forecast is for a continuation of the showery conditions that have characterised the summer months of 2017. All of this may well play havoc with those farmers and contractors hoping to get silage made, crops harvested and straw baled over the next week or so.
But when the weather deteriorates, most livestock farmers have a “Plan B“. They can bring their cattle and sheep indoors until conditions improve.
But for potato and cereal growers it really is a case of taking it all on the chin. Ireland’s tillage sector has been battered by the weather like no other. One has only to think back to the summers of 2008, 2009 and 2012 for confirmation of this.
And, of course we can add in the catastrophic harvest conditions that confronted cereal growers along the Atlantic seaboard last year.
So let’s hope growers are allowed to get on with things, working with the weather – rather than fighting against it – throughout the coming weeks.
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, focusing 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 Ireland. Throughout 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.Discover More