Baffled grain farmers want Teagasc to investigate why winter barley yields have been so disappointing.

Large-scale Co Cork-based grower Jim O’Regan said winter barley yields in Co cork have varied widely, from as high as four tonnes per acre to 2.75t, and bushel weights also disappointed, especially in six-row varieties.

Winter barley bushel weights in Co Cork were typically from the high 50s to the mid-60s, with a lot of them near 60.

He estimated the average yield was no more than 3.25t, and said some early spring barley crops next door to winter barley have yielded a half tonne per acre better.

Despite its higher production cost, winter barley is the “poor relation” this year, said Jim O’Regan.

Meanwhile, early spring barley and winter wheat crops were performing well.

Yields were high, barley was bushelling in the high 60s, and wheat in the high 70s.

Spring oats was satisfactory so far for yield and quality.

He revealed that combine harvesters have been largely idle in Co Cork for much of the past 7-10 days, due to delayed ripening of spring crops and winter wheat, and poorer weather Wednesday.

Cutting at higher (25%) moistures is now unsustainable due to drying costs, he said. 

But straw operations were largely completed, and good levels of demand were resulting in price levels (in the field) such as €10 per round bale for winter barley, and €20 for big square bales.

On grain prices, Jim O’Regan said growers need at least €135 for green barley.

There is a “little bit” of farm-to-farm trading going on, he said.

To boost the grain market, he called on the Irish whiskey industry to follow the example of some Scotch distillers in using less maize, and substituting it with wheat.

He said grain growers also need clarity on what they can claim for in the upcoming TAMS grant scheme, and said they are concerned at reports that only top of the range sprayers will qualify for grant aid.


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