Spring seed sowings could fall 10pc as grain prices slump
Seed suppliers believe spring sowings could be back by 10pc due to a combination of increased winter cereal areas and farmers deciding to leave land fallow.
Harvest 2016 prices of €115/t for green barley have pushed the breakeven levels for spring barley to over 3t/ac. The calculation includes straw sales of €35/ac.
As a result more and more farmers are planning to leave ground unplanted this spring, according to Ferns agri-merchant Peter Bolger.
"Any marginal ground will be left unsown or be taken into bird seed areas for GLAS. I see farmers more on top of the sums, and getting more comfortable with the idea of leaving land fallow," he said.
However, other merchants believe that most farmers will be reluctant to leave ground fallow.
"I can't see farmers leaving ground unsown," said Liffey Mills' Pat Ryan, despite the fact that he estimates that the spring barley area will be down 20pc on last year.
"Autumn plantings were up, so we'll probably be down 10pc overall in grain. But I see a lot of land still being converted to grass in the southern half of the country, and probably more fodder beet being grown too," he said.
Spring beans are experiencing a surge in popularity, especially in the northeast, as farmers seek out alternatives.