Farm Ireland

Thursday 27 October 2016

Grain growers face €7m hit this harvest

Declan O'Brien

Published 26/07/2016 | 02:30

Grain farmer Helen Harris on her farm in Co Kildare
Grain farmer Helen Harris on her farm in Co Kildare

Poor winter barley yields will whip €7m out of grain growers' pockets this harvest, despite upward movement on quotes for fried wheat and barley.

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Industry sources report that yields range from 2.5t/ac to 3.5t/ac with only the best crops topping 3.8-4t/ac.

James English from South Tipperary has three-quarters of his winter barley cut, with the 2-row averaging 3.2t/ac and the 6-row yielding 3t/ac."They're fine crops going in but the yields are very disappointing," Mr English said.

Kildare grower Helen Harris said 2-row crops were yielding 3.3t/ac, with 6-row crops averaging 3.5t/ac.

The expectation in Cork is that yields will struggle to average 3.2t/ac, IFA sources report.

There is less cut in the northeast but the indications are that many crops are struggling to do much over 3t/ac. However, growers are hoping for better yields when they get further into the crop.

IFA grain committee chairman Liam Dunne claimed the national crop average could be as low as 3.2t/ac, or 0.7t/ac below last year's average. "The fall in yield alone before factoring in a price drop will whip approximately €7m out of winter barley grower's pockets," said Mr Dunne adding urgent action was needed at both national and EU level to support struggling growers.

"The Government must move to create a properly functioning banking system to give farmers and SMEs access to competitively priced funds. Many growers are forced to rely on expensive merchant credit because of Ireland's dysfunctional banking system," he said.

He also called for GLAS payments for tillage farmers to be increased and the TAMS scheme for grain growers to be opened immediately.

"The EU Commission must move to abolish anti-dumping and customs duties on fertiliser immediately as it now is the single biggest input cost for growers. This would introduce much needed competition into the EU's fertiliser market, which is currently highly protected," Mr Dunne said.

Failure on the part of the both the Government and Commission to act would result in the continued drop in the Irish tillage acreage, he said.

While green barley is currently making €120-130/t, Mr Dunne said growers would need a price of €152/t to break-even this harvest.

Meanwhile, there was some positive moves on grain prices last week, with quotes for Irish dried wheat jumping €9/t to €169/t and barley €5/t on the week to €150/t on the back of poor harvest reports from France.

Grain growers also report strong demand from livestock farmers for straw in Munster. Dairy farmers are reported to have paid up to €40 for 8x4x4 bales in South Tipperary, with €11-12 per bales being given for 4x4s. A similar price for round bales was quoted in Cork.

Despite suggestions that the drop in milk price has hit straw demand from Northern Irish dairy farmers, up to €28-30/bale was talked of in the Louth/Meath area for 8x4x4 bales.

However, as low as €16/bale was quoted in north Kildare for 8x4x4s and most growers were said to be chopping straw on owned land. In Carlow ex-field prices of €11-12 for 4x4 round bales were reported.

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