Technical Crop Update: Winter 2022

Author: George Blackburn

2022 will live long in the memory of tillage farmers. Coming off the back of a good year in 2021, the spring was fraught with trepidation given the massive increase in fertiliser prices and energy prices in general. The outbreak of the war in Ukraine changed the game completely. With one of the world’s largest exporters effectively ceasing trading, grain prices rose to record levels. This eased concerns for many growers, and luckily we were blessed with an excellent growing season and good weather at harvest. The holy trinity of yield price and weather all came together again as in 2021, a very unusual occurrence to get two good harvests together. We will not complain however as it has breathed new life into the tillage sector and reminded us all why it is we do what we do for a living.

Farming is a risky business and feeding the world is becoming a trickier proposition for all sorts of reasons. The key message we must take from this year is despite worrying external factors, we must keep the faith. Stick to what we know and do our job as best we can. We have the capacity to produce the highest yielding, highest quality winter crops in the world and we must not lose sight of that fact.


Winter Oilseed Rape

Winter rape plantings have increased dramatically this year, even on the back of record plantings the previous year. Rape yielded very well this year and growers now see it as the go-to break crop. Factors such as grass weed issues in cereals, record high prices for rape and a very favourable planting window have all contributed to this. Winter crops were sowed in a timely fashion towards the end of August/early September and have established well in general. Most have already been treated with a herbicide for weeds and a graminicide.

The use of hybrid varieties has worked well in the later planting slots and have proven their worth. Varieties such as Ambassador and Aurelia performed very well in 2021.

The wet weather of the past month has slowed growth and crops in heavier land are suffering from waterlogging at present. There was little or no spraying done in November due to the wet conditions, so crops will need to receive an application of Kerb (propyzamide) as soon as conditions allow and temperatures drop below 12 degrees for grass weed control. Crops will also need to be treated for light leaf spot and will benefit from an application of boron. Some forward crops may need metconazole for growth regulation.


Winter Oilseed Rape


Winter Wheat

Plantings of winter wheat have held their own reasonably well again this year. Overall, acreage may be slightly down due to the difficult autumn but most dedicated wheat growers have managed to reach their planting targets. Later planned drillings after potatoes and beet have proved difficult this autumn. Most crops were drilled early and there was little to no planting done after mid-October.

Wheat delivered excellent returns in 2022 again despite the high input costs. Growers have opted with the tried and tested varieties of Graham and Costello as both have performed exceptionally well this year, with some growers recording record yields. More than the one field managed to break the 6 tonne barrier this year, showing us that it can be done.

Many growers especially on more difficult soils took advantage of favourable conditions in late September. These crops have established excellently, with almost 100% germination. Crops sowed in late September will be at risk of BYDV and will need an aphicide when conditions allow.

Aphid activity appears low due to the weather and we are still slightly in the dark as to the relative proportion of resistant aphids in the local population. This year is still relatively mild so well-timed aphicide applications are a must. Transform is still on the market this year with an autumn use label, so that is a big help with no known resistance to this product in the field yet. The advice must be to err on the side of caution and avoid spraying with a pyrethroid insecticide until at least 3 true leaves emerge on crops to minimise damage to beneficial insects that feed on aphids in the target population.

Later sown crops are struggling in wet conditions, so keep an eye out for slugs and avoid herbicide application when crops are stressed.


Winter Barley

Winter barley plantings have collapsed in the area this year, owing to a couple of factors. The removal of the three-crop rule has meant many growers who were using winter barley as their second crop are no longer obliged to do so. The second reason is the poor performance of a lot of winter barley crops last harvest. The earlier drilled crops that were sowed in poor rotation slots got hit with a double whammy of Take-All and some severe BYDV infections. This had a very negative impact on yield and quality, with some fields leaving little or no return. Chastened from this experience, farmers either moved away from winter barley altogether or opted for later planting, which did not happen with the weather.

Joyau, a six-row conventional variety with BYDV tolerance was available in limited supply last season and the few crops that were sowed performed very well. As a result, there has been an increase in plantings, especially in early slots. It will have a place going forward in rotations as the BYDV tolerance gene it carries contributes to better yields compared to conventional varieties. Plant breeding and not chemistry may be our best weapons against plant pathogens in the future, so varieties with more robust genetics for disease and pest resistance will come more to the fore.

As with wheat, similar advice applies to aphicide applications. Most crops were treated pre-emergence with a combination of Flufenacet and DFF and this was very important for grass weed control. Any crops not treated will need to get a post-emergence treatment of tower and DFF before annual meadow grass tillers to control it.


Winter Barley


Winter Oats

Winter oat plantings have reduced since last year, owing to the weather. Oats are not generally sowed until after the 10th of October, so opportunities for drilling have been limited.

Isabel and Husky are again the varieties of choice. They are both spring varieties planted in the winter, so there will be no issue sowing the seed destined for autumn drilling in the spring. Isabel is more suited to coastal areas as it has a very good rust resistance profile. Husky is a hardier variety, so will prove more suitable in a more challenging field.

Spring oats performed very well in 2022 and present a cheap reliable way of establishing a good break crop on your farm. Aim to plant oats at 12 stone (200 kg per ha) to ensure a strong plant standability.



Further Information

To view more articles from our Winter Newsletter, please click here.

Get In Touch

For the most up-to-date information on our products and services, please click here or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.



Clubroot Prevention In Oilseed Rape

Author: Jimmy Staples 

Cover crops are a fundamental element of any sustainable arable farm and provide many benefits to both our soils and wider farming enterprises. These benefits include but are not limited to improving soil health, preventing soil erosion, combating weeds, increasing soil water infiltration and availability, mopping up nutrients, helping to break pest cycles and increasing biodiversity.

There has also been a large increase in the acreage of cover crops sown this year, which has mainly been driven by the new Nitrates rules, particularly the stubble cultivation rule. Most farmers opted to plant a cover crop while carrying out stubble cultivations. Farmers understand their importance in a sustainable farming system and should be acknowledged for embracing cover crops of their own volition.

There are many different species used in the cover crop mixes that are popular across the country but a number of these, particularly the grazing mixes, have a high inclusion of brassicas. The fodder rape and leafy turnip mix are the main ones. The continuous use of cover crop mixes with a high inclusion rate of brassica species in the same field can increase the risk of clubroot occurring.

While I haven’t personally come across a case of clubroot in oilseed rape, anecdotal evidence would suggest that it is more of an issue where fodder rape and leafy turnip cover crops are being grazed continuously with sheep or cattle over a number of years in the same field. I and many of my colleagues work with farmers who have been using cover crop mixtures for 10, 15 and even 20 years now, with oilseed rape in their rotation, and have never had a case of clubroot on their farms. With that said, prevention is always better than cure and being aware of any possible risks and making informed decisions about rotation and cover crop mixes is good agronomic practice.

What is Clubroot?

Clubroot is a soil borne fungus that can affect all cultivated and wild members of the brassica family. Clubroot can live in the soil for up to 15 years and infected plants develop characteristic galls on the roots which reduce the plant’s ability to take up water and nutrients, leading to stunted growth and reduced yields.

In the UK, yield losses of 0.3 tonne to the hectare per 10% of oilseed rape plants affected have been reported. Total crop failure is also possible in extreme cases.




Clubroot Prevention

As with any IPM strategy, early identification is crucial. There are several simple and straightforward measures that can be taken to prevent clubroot from becoming an issue on farm:

  • Maintain drainage: Clubroot will move through the soil water. Poorly drained, compacted soils are at a higher risk for clubroot infection. Keep field drains flowing and if drainage work is needed, make it a priority where oilseed rape is intended to be sown.
  • Limit the movement of infected soil: Clubroot can spread from field to field on affected soil. If clubroot is identified in a field, then a plan should be formulated to minimise soil moving from that field to a clean field via machinery, footwear, straw or crops.
  • Keep the pH right: Crops grown in lower pH soils have a greater risk of developing severe symptoms. Another reason to ensure your soil pH is optimum.
  • Control weeds and volunteers: Weeds such as charlock, shepherd’s purse and volunteer rape will all host clubroot. Ensuring control of these weeds throughout the rotation will help to reduce the risk of clubroot developing.

Further Information

To view more articles from our Winter Newsletter, please click here.

Get In Touch

For the most up to date information on our products and services, please click here or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Farmer taking soil sample

The Importance Of Soil Sampling

Author: Philip Kennedy 

With the increased cost of chemical fertilisers, coupled with increased spreading restrictions into 2023, now is a perfect time to get organised and take up-to-date soil samples.

  • All arable land sown from January 1, 2023, must have an up-to-date soil sample available (within 3 years). The soil sample results combined with previous yield records will allow the farmer or advisor to tailor a fertiliser plan for the crop
  • From January 2022 all livestock farmers over 170kg N/ha must take soil samples and from January 2023 all livestock farmers over 130kg N/ha must take soil samples. In the absence of soil samples an index 4 value for phosphorus will be assumed and therefore applications of Phosphorus will be for the most part not permitted.
  • Nitrate derogation farmers already have the above rules to adhere to.
  • Nutrient management plans are becoming a necessity for most commercial farms.
  • Chemical fertilisers are expensive, so it is more important than ever before to use the correct rate of the appropriate product at the optimum time and spread evenly in the right place.


Soil Sampling Procedure

  1. Leave at least 3 months between chemical fertiliser and slurry applications before taking a sample.
  2. Sample the field in a W pattern while avoiding gaps, old field boundaries, dung and urine patches or muddy areas. Soils are best sampled when they are not in a saturated state to give a more accurate pH reading.
  3. Samples from a 2 to 4 ha range are advised with similar soil types and rotations being taken together in smaller paddocks or fields.
  4. Ideally, sample to a depth of 10 cm with a mix of around 20 cores per sample mixed.
  5. Separate soil samples should be taken from areas that are of different soil types, previous cropping history, drainage, or persistent poor yields. The amount of soil required will depend on how detailed an analysis you are getting. For a full trace element analysis, more soil will be required.

When growing any crop, it is critical to ensure that the soil pH is at the correct level. The optimum soil pH is 6.3 for grassland and 6.5 for tillage crops, preferably with 60-70% calcium and 10-20% magnesium.



Agri Lime

Lime is often a forgotten fertiliser that can impact soil fertility. There is no one size that fits all, therefore we must choose the correct lime to suit our soil type.

In general, calcium lime is the only type required in Wexford due to the elevated levels of magnesium in soils. Remember; Index 4 is as far as the scale goes for magnesium. You could be index 6 or 8 if the scale were to continue, therefore do not use dolomitic lime.

Having the correct type of lime and pH for your soil will make your Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) fertiliser work far more efficiently and can release up to 80 kg/ha of organic Nitrogen (N).



Know Your Offtakes

Spring barley for an 8 tonne per ha crop (3.2t/ac) will require 30 kg/ha of P (24 units/ac) and 90 kg of K per ha (73 units/ac). For P Index 2, add 10 kg (8 units), while P Index 1 will require 20 kg per ha (16 units/ac). For K Index 2, add 15 kg per ha (12 units/ac) and for K Index 1, add 30 kg per ha (24 units/ac).

When cutting grass silage, we must remember that each tonne of grass DM per ha will remove 4 kg/ha of P (3.2 units/ac) and 25 kg/ha of K (20 units/ac). Within a grazing situation, these nutrients are recycled and replaced from the animals through animal manure.

Sulphur (S) requirements will depend on your soil type. Light soils will leach S out more than heavy soils. As a rule of thumb, match your P requirements to your S requirements. Do not spread copious quantities of S during the breeding season to prevent selenium and iodine from locking up. Smaller quantities can be spread, however if you need ASN (16N 14S), Kieserite (15Mg 20S) or Calcium Sulphate (33 CA 22S), it is recommended to wait until after the breeding season as these products contain elevated levels of sulphur.




Contact Our Team Today 

The Cooney Furlong Grain Company offer full detailed soil samples and most importantly, analysis and advice for the coming season. Samples can include calcium and magnesium totals as well as a full breakdown of S, CEC and trace elements.

Contact your local branch or area manager to organise what you need.

Further Information

To view more articles from our Winter Newsletter, please click here.

Get In Touch

For the most up-to-date information on our products and services, please click here or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Combine harvester harvesting winter barley

Technical Crop Update: Summer 2022

The growing season of 2021/2022 will live long in the memory of cereal growers. Coming off the back of the best harvest in a generation in 2021 where we had the magic mix of yield, price and weather, much needed faith was restored into our sector. All stakeholders were filled with a renewed sense of optimism and reassurance as to why it is we do what we do for a living and ultimately a way of life.

2022 started with a sense of trepidation as input prices began to soar with fertiliser increasing up to 300% on the back of record natural gas prices, a key input in Nitrogen fertiliser manufacturing. However much has happened over the course of the season. The outbreak of war in Ukraine has had a seismic effect on the global grain market, with one of the world’s largest producers and exporters effectively unable to trade. This massive hole in the global supply chain coupled with the subsequent sanctions on Russia has seen global grain markets soar to record levels. Despite the high input prices, we arrive on the cusp of the harvest in a situation where there has never been a greater demand for our grain. This can only be positive for the sector. We can only control what goes on inside our own farm gate and as a result, all we can do is try and produce as high yielding and high-quality crops as possible. Irish growers are some of the best in the world and as long as the weather plays ball with us, hopes are high for another good harvest off the back of last year.


Crop Update

On a local and national level, disease pressure, grass and resistant weed issues along with the growing threat of BYDV have created many challenges for our 2022 crops. It is always important to reflect on the current condition of crops and assess what worked and what didn’t work in 2022.


Winter Barley 

Winter barley will be the first crop to go under the knife and will probably come in a week or so earlier than normal. It has been a challenging season for winter barley crops. The mild winter of 2021 has increased the risk of BYDV infection in crops, along with increased pressure from earlier sowing slots. Crops that were sprayed up to 3 times with insecticide are still showing signs of viral infection, clearly displaying the reduced efficacy of our insecticide tool box. Later sowing dates, plant breeding through resistant varieties, encouragement of beneficial insects in the population and new interesting work being done on manipulation of nitrate levels in the leaf, will all prove important mitigation tools in future seasons.

Some crops are also compromised by rotation slot, with those sowed after heavy winter wheat crops in 2021 exhibiting some symptoms of Take-All. Winter barley after break crops looks significantly better.

Crops also suffered from the cold spring from late March into early April. This saw a lot of tiller death in winter barley as crops struggled for nutrients and had poor nitrogen uptake. Crops looked thin for a long time but as the weather improved, crops have bulked up a lot. They may not be as barn busting as last year, however they will still return decent yields and considering current grain prices, they will leave a decent margin.

The main varieties to look for in 2023:

  • Joyau(BYDV Tolerant).
  • KWS Tardis.
  • Valerie.
  • Belfry.

Winter Barley


Winter Oilseed Rape

Winter rape could be the crop of 2021. In contrast to winter barley, the weather has suited rape all the way along and crops look to have fantastic potential. The prolonged flowering period of upwards of 6 weeks have seen excellent pod set on rape crops with good seed fill in the pods themselves.

The main commercial variety is Ambassador and looks excellent. It is a hybrid variety suitable for later sowing, has Turnip Yellow virus resistance and has an anti-pod shatter gene. The market for rape is strong at the moment and even though it has slipped slightly from record levels a few weeks ago, it will easily surpass any previous harvest prices. It looks like an excellent break crop option for 2023 with the current market prices available and the continued conflict in Ukraine a key world producer of vegetable oils helping to underpin prices.

Rape also presents a good opportunity to get on top of difficult grass weeds such as wild oats, sterile brome and ryegrass. There is no known resistance to propyzamaide and anyone with grass weed issues should consider rape as a break crop in their rotation. Now is a good time for desiccation and crops should be sprayed off when 2/3 of the seeds in the pods on the main raceme have turned from green to brown.

Oilseed rape


Winter Wheat 

Winter wheat crops look to have great potential for the coming harvest. The two main varieties for 2022 are mainly Graham with some Costello in the mix too.

The loss of Chlorothalonil was seen as a possible death knell for winter wheat production in Ireland, however that doesn’t seem to be the case as of yet. The addition of two new chemicals, Revystar and Innotrek have seen Septoria control brought to a new level. So much so, that many crops have three to four clean leaves still at this stage of the growing season.

First wheats again are a must with the odd second wheat showing signs of Take-All in places. BYDV is evident in some crops but does not look to be significant. As always, the later sown mid-October crops look to have the greatest potential.

Winter wheat update


Spring Barley 

Spring barley, our flagship crop, looks to have great potential again this year. Crops sown early have good plant stands, have went through a mainly dry flowering period and look to be filling well. The main variety sown is Planet, with some Gangway, Geraldine and a new variety Mermaid in the mix. Cooney Furlong will again be assembling Planet and Gangway for food grade purposes. Crops were sowed in great conditions at the end of March and seemed to get just the right amount of moisture when it was needed most. As a result, crops are thick and very bulky with growth regulators having to be employed on most crops at the onset of stem extension. The harvest will probably be a week earlier than normal as crops were sowed early and are well developed.

Weed control seems to be better than last year with more favourable temperatures at spraying timings this year. The resistant wild oat issue remains but growers with problems are taking action to mitigate the problem such as switching to pre emergence herbicides and a more varied crop rotation.

Spring barley field


Winter and Spring Oats 

The two main varieties, Husky and Isabel dominate the landscape again with Husky probably proving the tougher variety for winter sowing. As both are spring varieties sown in the winter, hardiness is a key attribute required. Crops look good in general with good panicle size and grain numbers per panicle with a few blind grains. The addition of boron zinc and manganese to the crop nutrition programme seem to have enhanced grain quality and yield in the last few years.

Rust and mildew are the two key diseases affecting oats and both have surfaced this year, especially mildew in spring oat crops. The loss of Corbel and Opus from the chemical toolbox will make control of rust and mildew a key concern in the coming seasons. Crop nutrition will play a key role in helping to mitigate disease threat in future seasons.

Field of winter oats


Spring Beans and Spring Wheat 

Spring beans look to have great potential this year as they have received rainfall at regular intervals. Beans need plenty of moisture to reach their yield potential and have grown into very heavy crops with good pod set and hopefully good pod fill. The main commercial variety is Lynx.

Disease control has been more challenging this year with the loss of chlorothalonil for chocolate spot and Ridomil Gold for downy mildew. Again, the rotation is key to beans with crops doing best when sowed no more than one in six in the rotation.

Spring wheat has come back into vogue slightly this year with the tillage incentive scheme seeing some livestock farmers plough up leys in order to plant a cereal crop. The two main varieties are Talisker and Duncan and crops look to have decent potential.



The main crops look to have great potential this year and we look forward to a successful harvest again. Despite record input prices, grain prices have risen to record levels and the prospect of near-record crop margins is a high possibility.

From all the Cooney Furlong Grain team, we would like to thank our customers for the continued support throughout the year and we wish you all a successful and safe harvest.


Further Information

To view more articles from our Summer Newsletter, please click here.


Get In Touch

For the most up to date information on our products and services, please click here or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Technical Crop Update: Summer 2021

Author: George Blackburn, Sales Manager  


As another crop protection season draws to a close, our attention now turns towards harvest and making assessments of the current condition of crops.

Due to the prolonged cold spells and big fluctuations between day and night-time temperatures, 2021 has been one of the most difficult and challenging seasons for crop protection and particularly spraying itself. The spring began and stayed cold well into April, making herbicide and growth regulation particularly difficult on some of the winter crops, especially oats. It also contributed to reduced efficacy of chemistry and very late germination of weeds post-application of contact herbicides.

Grass weeds were a particular challenge in winter cereals, with Sterile Brome beginning to rear its head in winter barley again, something that has not been an issue in recent seasons. Grass weeds like Brome, Canary Grass, Annual Meadow Grass and Wild Oats are providing an agronomic challenge that requires immediate attention and more stringent management protocols.

The addition of some new chemistry to the toolbox on wheat this year proved a saving grace as many spray intervals were delayed later. That said, the new actives in Questar and Revystar appear to have performed very well in the field, with Septoria control very satisfactory.


Winter Wheat:


The two main winter wheat varieties sown by customers were Graham and Costello and both have been performed well on most agronomic characteristics such as disease and especially Septoria and Yellow Rust.

The 2021 season has suited wheat as the prolonged cold spell prevented too much Septoria inoculum building up in the base of crops and transferring up the canopy when the rain came in May. The slow spring also allowed for steady canopy development, which is ideal for yield formation and crops never turned into the dreaded “silage” stage which can happen with rapid growth in early April. Wheat seems to have a very good grain set with the cold spring setting an extra grain or two on the ear. Crops flowered a week later than normal but the timing was ideal as it missed most of the heavy rain which can be a major source of Fusarium inoculum at flowering.

Crops have a lot of potential, and provided they don’t run out of moisture, bumper yields could be recorded. One lesson we did learn this year is the early sowing in difficult or heavy land is a must and outweighs the risk of BYDV to ensure proper establishment. Graham seems to be suitable for early drilling and is definitely something to bear in mind for the upcoming autumn campaign.

Spring Barley:

There has been huge variation in sowing date and soil type for our flagship crop, barley. Crops sown in March that had enough sap to push on once germinated have handled the cold and subsequent wet conditions that came afterwards. Crops sowed earlier, tillered out and developed a good canopy which allowed them to handle some of the heavy rainfall in mid-May.

Many barley crops have faced challenges this year in terms of establishment, weed and disease control. Crops that were not as advanced and may have had some underlying compaction or soil fertility issues, especially on headlands, have suffered badly. The heavy rain and easterly wind stressed crops to the point where tillers were aborted and growth was stunted to an extent that yield will be compromised.

Despite this, the story is largely a positive one as there are some fantastic crops out there, which could produce yields from 2-4 tonne to the acre this harvest and everywhere in between. Growers that did good quality work in the spring and minded crops well in terms of plant nutrition and good disease control programmes will be rewarded.

Spring barley field


Winter Barley:

Winter barley is coming to the end of grain fill and looks to have more potential than looked possible earlier in the season. Grain numbers are good per ear and crops are clean of disease and look to be filling well. The cold spring did not suit winter barley, as many crops never bulked up to the extent that they usually do.

The 6 rows look to have an edge in terms of vigour and seem to have coped with difficult growing conditions better as would be expected. The new 6-row conventional variety, Joyau is performing particularly well in the field and it will be interesting to see how it performs over the weighbridge in 4-5 weeks’ time. The BYDV tolerant gene could be a breakthrough for winter barley growers in the years ahead, however, grain quality must stack up with established varieties. It won’t matter how good it is against BYDV if it cannot meet the spec requirements of end-users.

2-row barley crops struggled in the cold spring, however, they look to be making a late run. The variety, Valerie looks to be performing particularly well, with a very good head on it.


Spring Beans:


Beans have relished the moisture in May and are in stark contrast to the sad drought-stricken crops in May 2020. Crops are lush, vibrant and look to have potential. First fungicides have been applied and rotation is again flagging up as a key determinant to disease pressure risk. Any crop sowed back to beans in the last 5 years as opposed to the ideal 1 in 7, is showing increased levels of downy mildew, which is something to keep an eye on in the future.


Winter and Spring Oats:

Field of winter oats

Both winter and spring oats look to be very well and have good, sized panicles. The cool weather suits oats crops and those that received good programmes should do well.

A lot of winter oat crops have suffered from a combination of frost and growth regulator damage around the country but luckily we don’t appear to have any of these issues with our grower base. Attention to spray timings and good foliar nutrition paid off on oats this year no doubt.


Oilseed Rape:

oilseed rape

Oilseed rape has a good pod set after a very long flowering period. Rape could be an attractive option for autumn 2021 as forward prices are attractive and the crop provides an excellent break option.

Rape will allow you to get on top of problem grass weeds in fields that are exhibiting resistance or enhanced metabolism to standard chemical treatments for grass weed control in winter and spring cereals. Propyzmaide (Kerb) found in Kerb and Astrokerb has no known resistance to grass weeds and could become a key IPM strategy for weed control in future.

Rape also offers an opportunity to spread the workload at harvest and with the new straw chopping scheme, growers may find it easier to get it established in a timely fashion.



In summary, crops look to be good on the whole and with harvest prices looking promising, I wish all our growers a successful and safe harvest and would like to thank them for their support throughout the year.


Note for growers:

The Cooney Furlong Grain Company will be purchasing food grade barley this year with premiums paid on certain varieties this harvest. If you have potential food grade barley, we request that you do not spray a crop of spring barley with glyphosate. Read more here. 


Further Information: 

To view more articles from our summer newsletter, please click here.