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Independent.ie

Friday 22 September 2017

Bumper crop drives yields over 5t/acre

Hardening of international grain prices adds to optimistic outlook

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Exceptional yields and hardening prices in the international grain market look set to make this year's harvest a bumper one.

Harvest intakes have increased by as much as 33pc in some areas, driven by outstanding yields in crops of both wheat and barley.

Individual wheat yields of 5-5.5t/ac have been recorded, while some fields of barley have reached 4.5t/ac.

The extraordinary yields have resulted in this year being compared with 1984, when wheat yields topped 4t/ac for the first time.

Co Louth merchant Billy O'Dea, from Deeside Agri, said there had been a phenomenal increase in yield.

"To the point where 5t/ac has nearly become the new 4t/ac. Some divisions of land are even recording 6t/ac," Mr O'Dea said.

However, Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) president Pat Minnock warned that individual crops varied hugely in yield, with some poor yields recorded beside bumper ones.

"Compaction, establishment, weather and rotation all play a role in crop yield," he said.

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Teagasc tillage expert Jim O'Mahony said bumper yields and good price prospects could result in an increase in the acreage of cereals sown next year.

Mr O'Mahony said a lift of up to 10pc in cereal acreage was possible, although the increase would be limited by conacre prices.

"There is a lot of optimism out there at the moment," said the crops expert.

Cereal area for this year's harvesting has already seen an increase of 6-7pc on last year's crop. He estimated a further increase of up to 10pc for next year's harvest, which would bring it to 82,500ha of wheat, 38,500ha of barley and 5,500ha of oats.

International grain prices have hardened significantly, with prices for London November feed wheat futures closing last week up Stg £8.50/t (€9.59/t) on the week previously. Paris milling wheat contracts increased by €8/t during the same period.

The international rise was prompted by the release of a report by the US Pro Farmer group, which lowered the estimates for the US maize crop, compared to the USDA's August projection.

Here at home, Glanbia offered growers €196/t for dried wheat on Friday but declined to quote any green price when contacted yesterday.

Grain cheques were issued to Dairygold suppliers on Wednesday, paying them an on-account price of €135/t plus VAT for all green barley, wheat and oats, subject to moisture and quality adjustments.

IFA grain chairman Noel Delany said many Irish buyers were privately admitting that green feed barley (at 20pc moisture, excluding VAT) would be at least €158-160/t off the combine, with wheat at least €8-10/t over barley.

With buyers active for milling wheat, quotes for grade 2 milling (9pc protein, 220 hagberg) are ranging from €188-196/t at 20pc moisture, excluding VAT.

Meanwhile, a delivered price of €170-174/t is on offer for green malting barley for export this year. An export price of €192-194/t is also on offer for dried oats ex-store. Mr Delany warned growers not to be talked into off-loading grain below its market value.

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