Teagasc forecasts grain production to fall 9% behind 2011 — even if the harvest weather is favourable, and despite a harvest area increase of 6.3%, or 19,000 hectares.
By the middle of last week, the winter barley harvest was estimated to be 25% complete, with yields ranging from 5.5 to 9.1 tonnes/hectare (1-2 t/ha less than 2011).
The worst performances were linked to root disease (mainly take-all) or BYDV.
Hectolitre weights were below normal, ranging from 55 to 65 hl/kg.
The winter barley area is up 22.6% on 2011; spring barley is up 5%. Winter wheat area is up 9.4%; spring wheat is down 14.6%.
Winter oats is down 33.3%, spring oats is down 12.9%.
Generally, cereal head disease levels were high, and it remained to be seen what impact this would have on final yields and hectolitre weights.
Last week, winter wheat and spring barley crops were at or approaching the correct stage for whole-cropping. Most crops still had some way to go before they were ready for crimping or alkalage.
There may be opportunities for tillage farmers to sell cereal crops standing as whole-crops, because many livestock farms have difficulty in securing adequate fodder supplies for the coming winter.
Maize could be one of the crop casualties of the wet summer, with Teagasc warning last week that some crops are unlikely to produce an acceptable yield or a mature cob.
Following very poor maize growth to date, plastic crops were well tasselled out, while open crops varied from knee to waist-high.
Weed control had been generally satisfactory and compared to 2011, visible nutrient deficiencies were not reported. Early symptoms of eyespot were common.
Fodder beet growth is reasonable, given the low sunshine hours this summer. Leaf disease control should be considered, especially to avail of any late season growth and where late harvesting or grazing is planned.
The area of winter oilseed rape is estimated at 15,000 hectares in 2012. Early yield results have been reasonably consistent at 3.7 to 4.5 t/ha. Given a favourable drilling window, it is likely that the area will increase for the coming season, because profit margins look promising for 2013.
Slug numbers are very high this year and will need higher than normal monitoring and treatments.
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