Optimism replaces doom and gloom
THE DOOM and gloom of the past two years' grain prices has lifted, to be replaced with cautious optimism. Given improved prices and reduced fertiliser costs this year, margins should be €150/ac better than last year, and grain quality is excellent.
Harvesting of winter barley is almost complete and a start has been made on harvesting some February-sown spring barley. Yields range from 2-4.8t/ac, with an average yield of 3.1-3.3t/ac. Highest yields have come from six-row varieties and hybrids. The six rows have had some head losses but no significant losses overall.
Moistures are satisfactory at 15-21pc, with most crops coming in at 17-18pc. Bushel weights are generally in the high 60s and some saffron is at 70.
Winter oats appear to be yielding better thaN expected, at up to 3.8t/ac, but averaging 3t/ac with bushel at 55/56 and moistures of 14/15pc. However, there are many thin crops of spring oats sown last winter that will do well to yield 2.5t/ac.
The better yields are reported from land after break crops, where organic fertilisers were used and from fresh land. The highest yield of winter barley to which I referred to above was on a crop of winter rape.
Undoubtedly the heavy spring frost made a tremendous improvement to land which had been compacted in the past two years. However, there are structural problems in many fields, as evidenced by thin crops with poor grain fill. Such lands will need to be assessed post-harvest and remedial programmes put in place.
The largely unasked and unanswered question is how much will merchant's pay?
In previous years, farmers looked for a price agreement before delivery. This year, with most commentators advising of reduced supply to world and European markets and increasing futures prices, farmers anticipate improving prices and merchants are avoiding price commitments.