Farmers facing 50% less straw due to drought

Farmers facing 50% less straw due to drought
The combination of dry conditions and reduced winter crop plantings will result in a severe straw supply reduction. Picture: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Farmers have warned of a 50% reduction in straw supply, due to drought.

IFA Grain Chairman Mark Browne said recent rains were too late for many crops, and many growers will have significant yield reductions, with some crops “a write-off”.

“The situation is particularly critical right up through the midlands and into the east and northeast, where growers, in some cases, have practically closed the gates on crops which may not be worth harvesting,” he said

He said the combination of dry conditions and reduced winter crop plantings will result in a severe straw supply reduction.

“It is estimated that barley straw availability will reduce by 300,000 tonnes, and wheaten straw by 200,000 tonnes compared to last year. This is almost a 50% reduction in supply,” he said.

He called on merchants and feed mills to prioritise Irish grain and pay sustainable grain prices.

According to this week’s Teagasc Grass10 Newsletter, north Meath, Carlow, Kildare, north Tipperary, and parts of Clare and Kilkenny received no rain up to Tuesday, and low grass growth rates continued in these areas, some of which at the start of this week had the lowest grass growth rates (30-40 kg of DM/ha/day) nationally, along with Co Offaly (28 kg) and Co Louth (36 kg).

Such areas need rotation length maintained at 25 days, matching growth and demand to avoid running down the farm cover This may require bringing all areas into the grazing rotation, and strip grazing paddocks earmarked for surplus bales (more cost efficient than bales).

Supplementing feed if necessary to match growth and demand, and selling any livestock that serve no purpose, are also recommended.

The Met Eireann soil moisture deficit map on Tuesday indicated that only Munster (except for Co Clare and north Tipperary) was under the 50mm deficit point at which grass growth is hindered.

The Met Eireann farming forecast yesterday confirmed that soil moisture deficits remained high in all parts of the country and for all soil types, but some improvement is expected in many areas in the week ahead.

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