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Independent.ie

Sunday 11 December 2016

Promising outlook on harvest

Published 22/07/2015 | 02:30

Cereal grower Jimmy Purcell, Orchardstown, Clonmel, Co Tipperary harvested Volume hybrid winter barley at Knocklofty which yielded around four tons per acre at twenty per cent moisture and bushelled sixty four kph. John Blackmore, Killenaule is pictured emptying the harvester. Photo O'Gorman Photography.
Cereal grower Jimmy Purcell, Orchardstown, Clonmel, Co Tipperary harvested Volume hybrid winter barley at Knocklofty which yielded around four tons per acre at twenty per cent moisture and bushelled sixty four kph. John Blackmore, Killenaule is pictured emptying the harvester. Photo O'Gorman Photography.

Early indications are of a promising harvest, despite a cold spring and disappointing looking spring barley crops.

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Many grain growers in the southern half of the country ventured into fields last week to snatch a few tonnes before the mid-week rains arrived.

Initial reports on quality are excellent, with bushel weights ranging from 66-72kph on dried samples.

Winter barleys look more promising than spring barley crops, with a cold April and May blamed for the latter.

While temperatures may have been below normal during the crucial establishment period, Teagasc's Michael Hennessy said that a cooler summer had delayed harvesting by a week or two, and that this could actually benefit final yields.

"The harvest is certainly a week or two later than last year but that might be a good thing in terms of grain fill," said the grain specialist.

However, he said that it was unlikely that grain yields would surpass the records set in recent years.

"It's really too early to tell yet, and even though the first results look promising, I doubt that we'll be setting any records this year," he said.

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Wheat prices look like they are beginning to settle around the €150/t mark, with €10-15 less for barley.

Differential

Dried domestic wheat prices closed last week €190/t after mid-week moves of up to €4/t. The differential between wheat and maize has increased significantly in recent days, according the IFA's grain secretary, Fintan Conway.

"Maize at one stage moved out over €203/t before easing back to €198-200/t by the end of the week, while barley finished at €170-172/t," he said.

Despite a 13pc spike in winter barley acreage, the overall acreage of barley has actually decreased on the back of a slump in spring barley area.

A 20 million tonne fall in projected harvest yields across the EU has helped steady prices in the last week. Maize prices have also increased as a heatwave takes its toll across the US Corn Belt during the crucial 'silking' phase. This adverse weather comes on top of a difficult US spring when maize crops struggled through a rain-soaked start.

This bodes well for Irish grain farmers, with more expensive maize helping underpin Irish grain that is already benefiting from the strength of the dollar to the euro.

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