The first half of the winter barley harvest has gone fairly well, according to Teagasc crops specialist Tim O’Donovan, with up to 50% of the expanded crop cut in early areas.
Early this week, he said crop potential was “good”, and predicted an average winter barley yield outcome of 3.5-4 tonnes per acre, given reasonable weather to harvest the rest of the crop.
This above average outcome would be a good start to the harvest, of which winter barley is about 70,000 hectares this year, or over one quarter of the national grain crop.
However, farmers in South Cork say winter barley is disappointing locally, averaging only about 3t per acre so far, which would be their worst crop in over a decade.
Elsewhere, quality has been good, and moisture content have been at 18%-21%, said Tim O’Donovan.
Prices are the main problem, with IFA president Eddie Downey saying current offers for grain are significantly below the production cost, posing a threat to long-term tillage viability.
He said: “Growers, for the third year in a row, will be forced to heavily subsidise grain production from their Single Farm Payment or other reserves this harvest.” He called on the trade to support growers.
Grain chairman Liam Dunne said: “Traditionally Irish grain has traded at a discount to import parity, and this must change. This year’s crop is of exceptional quality and should command a premium over inferior imports.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved