We finally finished combining on September 17 – almost three weeks later than in 2018, though actually still 10 days earlier than in 2017!

All malting barley has left store with last uplift on October 11. All the malting barley made the required specifications, though there might be a couple of the later cut loads which may have deductions due to skinnings.

The wheat unfortunately did have some issues with the last field cut failing to make seed specification due to sprouting. As we only grow seed wheat we are used to it leaving farm at harvest time as it either gets dressed on farm with the mobile seed dresser or leaves farm bulk, therefore freeing up much needed harvest shed space. We’ve had to move this grain into our small sheep sheds and await uplift for distilling or feed at a much reduced price from what it was contracted at.

We still have a small amount of both wheat and spring barley straw lying that has not been baled and we'll need a prolonged dry forecast if we are going to get it at any point in the near future as it will need moved first.

The last few weeks have been spent moving wheat straw into carrot fields and loading it onto lorries, and delivering barley straw to customers. In addition, we also have approximately 500 bales in sheds, most of which has been pre-booked by customers and will go between November and April.

Winter wheat drilling finished on October 16 with a field of Skyscraper, with our drilling rate increased for the last field to 450 seed/sq/m as it was getting late for us, and we had plenty seed available as we had decided to not to drill two fields which were particularly wet.

The majority of our wheat was drilled by October 5 in less than ideal conditions, and though we got three of four dry days in a row, which must be some sort of record for this season, the ground was still saturated in parts. We have been at Ballicherry for 20 years and Dad says he has never seen so much water lying in even the dry fields at this time of year.

Variety wise, we are growing Jackal, Skyscraper and Westminster. We are also doing a split field trial in one of the fields of Skyscraper and have drilled half with seed treated with Syngenta’s latest seed dressing ‘Vibrance duo’ and half treated with Redigo Pro. A time lapse camera – sent to us by Syngenta – has been set up to capture if there is any difference in emergence rates with the two dressings, so it will be interesting to see what impact it has.

As conditions have been so awful, we haven’t managed to roll or apply pre-emergence herbicides to any of the wheat crops, and again, we’ll need a few more dry days before we will be able to consider that.

Overall it’s been a disappointing autumn with crops which looked very promising in the summer achieving pretty average yields due to low bushel weights, high drying costs, struggles with travelling on water-logged land, not to mention the drop in prices!

It has been nice to read in the last few weeks about NFUS suggestions on how the convergence money promised by Boris should be divided up across farming sectors. I can very much see all points of view as we are predominantly arable but do have our own flock of breeding ewes, while my husband has 140 suckler cows. All sectors are facing a great strain at the moment due to rising costs and falling prices. For example, the price we are getting for our malting barley is down about 36% compared to last year, while the costs of machinery, labour, fuel, agrochemical and fertiliser are only going up!

In times of strife it’s vital we as farmers, no matter what our speciality, try and stick together and show a united front to give our sensible voice of reason any chance of being heard over the clowns in the cut throat political climate we are currently being subject to.