Farmers facing weather crisis

High rainfall throughout late summer and early autumn is leaving many farmers facing a crisis in harvesting their crops.

High rainfall throughout late summer and early autumn is leaving many farmers facing a crisis in harvesting their crops.

Among those most affected are potato and grain crops that could face disastrous consequences if the heavy rains don’t subside until they can be saved.

The Irish Farmers Association has warned that farmers will face financial implications if grain crops and potatoes are lost due to the usually cold and wet weather in August and September. Farmers say they need another two weeks of the dry weather to save crops.

A lot of the grain in the county cannot be harvested yet because it is too wet and potatoes cannot be brought in because the ground is too wet.

Some grain crops have already been lost and up to 70% of the crop across the county still has to be harvested.

Farmers face the prospect of losing potatoes and grain that they were intending to sell or purchasing extra grain during the winter to feed cattle due to losses.

Dairy farmers are also facing extra costs because they have had to bring cattle in a month early due to the wet ground.

Chair of the IFA in Donegal PJ McMonagle said farmers in the north west are suffering more because of the weather they have experienced in recent weeks compared to colleagues in the south of the country.

“It is the financial implication of the whole thing that is the problem,” he said. “They are depending on getting that crop out to pay bills. If the weather does not pick up we are in serious trouble in this county. There have been three inches of rain in the last fortnight - that is a serious amount of water to fall in a short period of time. Some of it has already been lost and the tillage of grain is going to be down. You normally get 2.5 to 3 tonnes an acre and you could be lucky now to get 2 tonnes an acre.”

Wheat and barley are two grain crops Manorcunningham farmer Keith Roulston says have been badly affected by the weather.

“It’s really just a case of salvaging now. Some crops aren’t so bad and some people have them saved, but even at best at the moment, there will be losses, with heads in the ground and shedding grain. At best it will be losses and at worst some crops could be completely lost,” he stated.

He said many farmers across the county were hoping heavy rainfall would desist for a while so it would give them an opportunity to assess the damage and save remaining crops.

“If it were to dry up the barley could be cut but there will be some yield loss. Once you have yield lost you are eating into your so-called profit,” he added.

He said he has heard stories from other farmers who have large crop areas where the grain is now lying on the ground and cannot be cut.

“To look at it you would think the crop is still standing, but it has got so ripe it has shed the grain and it is all lying on the ground. It’s gone,” he added.