Teagasc: Flood crop loss could be 5%

Winter barley is likely to be severely damaged if under water for more than a couple of days, warned Teagasc advisers last week.

Where barley is subjected to sustained flooding, yields can be reduced by 50%.

Growers should map areas which fooded and monitor the eventual plant populations and their potential to yield.

This should influence the grower’s decision about potentially re-sowing, or not applying further inputs to the affected areas of the crop.

These maps can also be used later in the year to investigate why these areas were not draining correctly.

This could be due to poor soil structure, a blocked drain or inadequate drainage.

According to Michael Hennessy, Head of Crops and Energy Knowledge Transfer in Teagasc; “There are a number of simple actions growers can take to help alleviate surface flooding, which include checking land drains are flowing into drains unimpeded, checking drain outlets are not blocked with debris such as branches and leaves.

“Where possible, create a channel to let surface water run in to dikes or ditches”.

“In order to reduce damage, it is very important to get the surface water to drain away as quickly as possible, so that oxygen can get to the leaves and roots,” added Michael.

Winter barley is more sensitive to waterlogging than wheat.

Estimates from Teagasc tillage advisers across the country put flooding at 5-10%, and potential damage at less than 5% of the crop area.

“In Wexford, despite the major flooding in towns, most crops are reasonably OK, with the major flooding taking place beside rivers in areas which were generally not sown to winter cereals,” said Ciaran Hickey, Teagasc tillage adviser in Wexford.

“However, damage may not be apparent for some time on headlands, or areas of the field with poor soil structure, as plants may already be affected by restricted root growth and yield potential.”

Farmers with higher value crops are the most immediately impacted.

There are a small number of farmers with potatoes in the ground and under water.

It will be some time before these crops can be harvested, and losses are expected to be high.

Ciaran Collins, Teagasc tillage adviser in Cork, said: “There are substantial amounts of fodder beet in the ground waiting to be harvested.

“Ground conditions since mid-November halted harvesting and now stocks are running out, creating a fodder gap for farmers and a potential loss of sale for beet growers”.

The upcoming Teagasc Spring Seminars, taking place around the country in January, will help farmers to address the aftermath of flooding and economic consequences.

See http://www.teagasc.ie/events/2016/Spring-Crop-Seminars-web.pdf for a list of the seminars.


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