First batch of grain fails merchant tests due to ‘unrelenting rain’

Grain loads in Wexford are among the first to fail grain merchants’ tests due to the impact of the past three months of unrelenting rainfall, says IFA national grain committee chairman Noel Delany.

The IFA grain leader said 11% of the Wexford loads he had seen delivered to Boortmalt had failed the malt producer’s rigorous germination tests. News of the test failures emerged at a meeting of IFA grain producers in Dublin yesterday.

Mr Delany said grain growers’ incomes will be down €100m on 2011 levels due to rain damage.

Yields are down 25% and production will fall 500,000 tonnes short of forecasts for 2012, at a loss of around €200 per tonne.

“This rainfall has been a nightmare for both grain producers and for grain merchants,” Mr Delany said. “There is a lot of mental stress involved for producers, who are waiting every day for some break in the rain to try to get some work done.

“Boortmalt has only about 30% of the grain taken in, and it is slow going because of the extra screening. One producer told me he was waiting four hours trying to get in a load of grain.

“We understand that they’ve a very specific product they must supply to the likes of Diageo. The grain simply has to be put through the tests.”

Meanwhile, Dairygold has also had to reject some suppliers’ grain that would have been intended to go to its malting clients and some other classes of contract. The rejections have generally been for the regions worst hit by rainfall.

However, Dairygold Agribusiness technical manager Scott Lovell said the grain has been of adequate quality for general use purposes.

Mr Lovell said: “Feed merchants have a lot of options where they can get their grain, and they have very specific demands. We have not been able to approve some of this year’s grain for them.

“But for our own needs, the quality is reasonable in the main. The protein level in this year’s grain is reasonable, but we are struggling a bit with bushel weight. However, UCC studies have shown that bushel weight is not that important when it comes to animal feed.”

Mr Lovell said yields are definitely down due to the weather. He notes that 2012 barley yields are running at 2.5 tonnes per acre versus three tonnes in 2011. Yields of winter wheat are at four tonnes per acre for 2012, but were higher in 2011.

Dairygold has no plans to import grain, but Mr Lovell expects Ireland will have to increase its overall grain imports this year. This ties with projections made by Teagasc experts last week.

It also ties in with Teagasc and IFA estimates that the 2012 crop will total just 2.1m tonnes. This compares with an anticipated 2.6-tonne yield, despite a significant increase in acreage devoted to grain nationally this year.

Mr Delany described the mood at yesterday’s IFA grain growers’ meeting as downbeat.

He said grain farmers have made significant investment in increased harvesting capacity over the last few years. Their frustration is exacerbated by the fact they had been expecting rapid progress this year.

Mr Delaney said: “Ground conditions are deteriorating rapidly with water tables at unusually high levels for the time of year. Even if the weather improves, parts of many, if not all, of some fields may be left unharvested at this stage as some parts of the country are receiving in excess of 200% of normal rainfall for the time of year.”


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