First winter barley yields are far from encouraging
The winter barley harvest started last week in the south but stalled again due to poor weather. This week should see some progress made. The early reports so far are not encouraging.
Typically, early harvested crops tend to be the poorer yielders for a variety of reasons. The crops that had poorer disease control or that had suffered most from barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) or take-all are the ones that will ripen first and will have lower yields.
There are reports of yields of 3 to 4.1 tonnes per acre with bushel weights from 54 to 63 KPH. The very low bushel weights are generally the six row varieties. Some of these reports are from growers who achieved 5 tonnes in 2015.
It is probably a little early to judge the winter barley harvest, however from looking at crops over the last week it would appear that grain fill is certainly not as good as it was in 2015.
This does not auger well for yields and, as is widely reported, prices will be well back on 2015 prices which were very poor in themselves. All indications are that the likely price for green barley this harvest will struggle to reach €130 per tonne. The 2015 equivalent was between €135 and €140.
The high yields of 2015 gave some comfort to many growers for the low prices, however if yields and prices are low this year it will leave the break-even point difficult to achieve even on owned land.
Hopefully, as the harvest progresses, the later crops will be better. Many crops were only desiccated last week and it will be another week before these crops are ready for harvest. During inspections last week I noticed many crops were breaking down, particularly Quadra and the harvest of these crops may have to be earlier to avoid excessive losses.
Many winter oil seed rape crops were desiccated last week. The balance will be desiccated this week. Crops should be desiccated when the seeds in the pods in middle third of the main raceme are turning brown. It is still difficult to determine the value for using a pod sealant. In theory this should be applied 10 days before desiccation to seal the pods and follow this with the desiccant a week to 10 days later.