independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Seed at €800/t is last straw for growers

Disillusioned tillage growers are expected to dramatically reduce the area sown to winter wheat for next year, according to Teagasc.

Some 85,000ha of winter wheat were sown for this year's harvest, but that could fall to between 50,000ha and 60,000ha next year, Teagasc tillage expert Jim O'Mahony predicted.

Terrible yields of less than 2t/ac were recorded by 5-10pc of farmers this year, while the majority of growers recorded yields of 2.5-3t/ac.

"There is considerable disillusionment among growers with regard to winter wheat," said Mr O'Mahony. "Some people will be ashamed to admit just how poor their yields really were, but quite a percentage of growers had very bad crops."

A €100-200/t hike in the cost of winter wheat seed will also curtail the amount of the crop that will be sown in the back end. Just 10-15pc of the expected Irish seed wheat crop has been saved this year as disease-ridden crops failed to make the grade for seed quality stock.

The cost of importing seed from Europe will also push the cost of sowing cereal crops up by €100-200 per tonne.

Wheat seed cost €460/t on average in 2011, but this is expected to jump to €700-800/t this year.

The dramatic jump in price is due to a combination of the import charges for a bulky product and the rising price of cereals around the world.

Meanwhile, the IFA is currently meeting with grain brokers, mills and importers in an effort to curb further losses due to low bushel weights in wheat, a feature of both Irish and imported crops this year.

Few wheat crops met the quality standard required this year and in some extreme cases penalties of up to €20/t were mooted. However, it appears that buyers have rowed back on this. Even when dried, most wheat crops will struggle to breach the 70kph mark. Penalties being imposed range from 60-127c/kph point below 70-72kph, depending on the buyer.

Less than 5pc or around 30,000ac remains to be cut, mostly in the north Dublin, Meath and Louth region.

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