Friday 30 September 2016

Poor barley crop will hit con-acre demand

Declan O'Brien

Published 16/08/2016 | 02:30

Warning: Pat Minnock
Warning: Pat Minnock

Many large tillage farmers will lease their entitlements rather than take on expensive con-acre, a leading Cork auctioneer has said.

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Eamonn O'Brien of CCM Property Network in east Cork said it would be hard to see last year's con-acre prices repeated given the difficult harvest.

The con-acre market kicks off over the next fortnight, with the first land parcels already coming on the market in Cork.

While higher than expected winter wheat and spring barley yields have given struggling cereal growers a welcome boost, it is widely accepted that poor prices and yields in the main winter barley crop will hit the con-acre market this autumn.

Over €340/ac was paid for tillage ground in exceptional cases last year, with a sizeable proportion costing between €170/ac and €250/ac.

However, Pat Minnock, the Carlow-based agricultural consultant, insisted that similar prices could not be justified this autumn.

Typical cost

"The typical cost of growing an acre of winter barley is €500, or the equivalent of 4t/ac. That's on owned land and not even factoring in a con-acre price," he said.

Mr O'Brien predicted that many larger cereal growers would lease their entitlements this year rather than take expensive con-acre.

"The con-acre market is going to be very interesting this year," he said. "The evidence from last year suggests that cereal farmers who leased entitlements got 80pc of their value."

He maintained large tillage farmers will be more inclined to lease their entitlements rather than take on expensive con-acre if cereal prices remain low.

Meanwhile, winter wheat yields of 4-4.5t/ac have been reported as the cutting of later crops gathers pace across the country. The general consensus is that crops are yielding very well and the quality is generally hitting 76-82kph.

James Irish of Bretts said harvesting of winter wheat started last week in south Kilkenny and Tipperary but was interrupted by poor weather. He said the quality of the crops was impressive, with most harvested at moistures of 18pc or better. Growers in east Cork said winter wheat on good ground was yielding 4.5t, with similar results being reported in south Tipperary.

March-sown spring barley appears to have done well, with yields of up to 3.5t/ac reported in the Carlow area. Winter barley yields have tended to improve as the harvest progressed, with some farmers in the southeast getting up to 4.5t/ac - while also cutting crops at 2.5t/ac.

Pat Minnock said the best yields for both spring barley and winter barley came from fresh ground or where barley followed a break crop.

Winter oats yields vary from 3t to 4t/ac. Most winter oilseed rape has now been harvested and yields have varied from about 1.1t/ac to 1.9t/ac.

Harvesting of malting barley was abandoned last week in the midlands as the crop was not ripe. Serious problems have been reported with skinned grains.

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