Grain growers on weather alert as global prices slip
Heavy rains threaten bumper harvest potential
Published 05/08/2015 | 02:30
Broken weather and weakening prices have dampened the bright start to the 2015 grain harvest.
Heavy showers over the last week have led to lodging and shedding in some crops, especially in six-row winter barleys and crops that have been sprayed with glyphosate three weeks ago.
With tomorrow's forecast predicting more heavy downpours across the country, growers are getting more anxious about saving what was promising to be a bumper harvest.
Top growers in the Leinster region reported yields of 4.7-5t/ac in winter barley crops, with winter wheats also looking very promising. Average winter barley yields may be closer to 4t/ac, while the harvest of wheat crops is not expected to commence in earnest for another two weeks.
Quality appears to be on par or slightly below last year's excellent bushel weights, with six-row barley crops suffering more than most.
Grain prices slipped slightly over the last week, with better weather in the US coupled with Chinese stock market jitters lowering quotes by about €2/t.
However, maize prices are holding well, with concerns over the impact of El Nino still in play, and the impact of record July temperatures on European spring sown crops becoming more apparent. Maize crops in France, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Ukraine and Belarus were worst affected.
In addition, heavy rain is also taking its toll on crops across Northern Ireland, Scotland and parts of Northern Europe.
"Breakdown in crops that were fit to harvest two and three weeks ago is the biggest problem," said Teagasc's tillage specialist, Michael Hennessy.
Carlow grower, Ivan Holden, has some spring barley crops that have lodged in the last three weeks, but he is hopeful that losses will be minimised.
"The worst affected is a quite tall variety called Planet that I grew as a seed variety for Boortmalt, but it is only really affected where there was a bit of overlap with the fertiliser spreader on the headlands," he said.
He got all his winter barley cut in good condition, with yields up 0.5t/ac on last year.
Some winter oats and oilseed rape has been cut but not enough to give an overall picture on yield. Initial reports suggest that yields are improved on last year's disappointing levels.
New crop Irish dried wheat prices closed the week down €2/t at €180/t to €184/t. New crop dried barley is also lower this week trading from €166/t to €170/t. New crop maize was again the biggest faller for the week, trading down €10/t to €180/t.
However, the IFA's grain secretary, Fintan Conway is still hopeful that prices will strengthen post-harvest.