Unfavourable weather has added to tillage farmers’ harvest fears of low prices and a significant fall in yields compared to last year.

Rainfall over the past nine days was well above average in most places, and many growers may have only a harvest window tomorrow before a deterioration in the weekend weather.

Harvest progress had been mixed, with the south and south-east furthest ahead, with probably around 70% area harvested.

Further north, broken weather and later ripening had left 50% of the grain area uncut coming into this week.

Overall, grain yields so far are estimated to be behind last season’s levels, with intakes reporting a 15%-20% drop in volume.

Winter barley yields were estimated at 3.2t/acre, ranging from 2t to 4.4t (about 0.7t behind last season).

Winter oat yields averaged about 3.3-3.4t/ac.

Winter wheat had done better than anticipated, particularly for first wheats, which had averaged 4.2t/ac up to this week (0.3-0.4t behind last harvest). Bushel weights for early cut wheats were 75kph-81kph off the combine.

March sown spring barley yields were 2.6-3.7t/acre.

A lot of April sowings are at least a week away from being ripe.

According to IFA, skinning has been a significant cause for rejections in the midlands and South East but not so much in the south (it is normally an issue only at the end of the harvest).

Maltsters had increased the level for acceptance given the widespread nature of the problem.

Proteins are also higher this season, up 0.4% compared to 2015.

Malting barley prices could be a bright spot in this year’s harvest, if the Irish market is affected by a recent 10% malting barley prices rise in the French cash market, taking the premium over feed barley to €60 per tonne.

The EU malting barley export surplus has tumbled, and malting premiums in Europe are at their highest level in nearly five years.

Here, overall grain production for 2016 is forecast at 2.1mt, about half a million tonnes below last season’s bumper crop. 

IFA warned the decline in sowings, estimated at 40,000 acres for the current crop year, will continue, because current price offers are €25/t to €30/t below the cost of production (including fixed costs). 

IFA’s Grain Feed Helpline is available for livestock farmers with advice on processing, storage and feeding options for grain and protein crops, and with guidance on where grain is available locally.

Grain Feed Helpline nutritionists are available from 9am to 5 pm at 087-0626444; 087-2227869; and 087-9066478.

IFA sources said Irish dried grain prices had firmed slightly, with €150-153/t on offer for barley for nearby collection, and €153-155/t for November or December collection. Dried wheat was trading at €10 over barley.

No firm quotes had yet been made for green barley, but merchants were paying €120-125/t on account, for final settlement in late September.


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