A large group of dairy farmers attended a CAFRE short course on the farm of John and Simon Best, Poyntzpass. The focus of the training was 'Managing Cereal Crops – Right time, right product, right rate'.

Iain Johnston, CAFRE Crop Development Adviser, Armagh used the October sown, winter wheat crop to demonstrate the current growth stage and outlined the various growth stages at which the herbicide/fungicide/nutrition programme is implemented. A healthy, well grown crop will be ready for harvest as whole crop silage when the grain is at the ‘cheesy stage’ in mid August.

Steps that he recommended were:

  • At growth stage 31 the crop is ready for its first fungicide spray
  • At growth stage 37 - 39, when the flag leaf is out, the crop is ready for its second fungicide spray
  • Once the head is out and beginning to flower the crop is ready for its third fungicide spray.

In all cases advice should be sought from a BASIS Qualified Agronomist.

There was a discussion about the yield potential of current winter wheat crops on the participant’s farms. A well grown crop could achieve between 8t and 10t of grain per hectare. Typically 13t of wholecrop silage dry matter per hectare can be achieved from a well-grown winter wheat crop.

Judith McBride, CAFRE Dairy Development Adviser, Armagh outlined how good quality whole crop can be used on farms this winter. Partial replacement of grass silage by whole crop - 10kg of whole crop in a dairy cow ration will replace 16kg of grass silage – increasing cow dry matter intake.