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Sunday 24 September 2017

Winter cereals set to plummet by 50,000ha

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

SOWING of winter cereals is expected to plummet by 50,000ha in the wake of the disastrous harvest of 2012.

Early estimates from Teagasc suggest that the area of winter wheat sown for harvesting next year could fall by as much as 35,000ha or 40pc, while winter barley sowings could fall by 14,000ha or 30pc.

Poor winter wheat yields and difficult harvesting conditions have persuaded many farmers against growing the crop for the 2013 harvest.

Teagasc tillage expert Jim O'Mahony predicted that the winter wheat crop could fall from 85,000ha to 50,000ha in 2013.

With just two weeks left in the sowing window for winter barley, that crop looks set to fall from 44,000ha to 30,000ha next year.

Winter oats acreage is expected to hold steady at around 6,000ha. However, 2012 was one of the smallest winter oat crops in 20 years, after crops suffered severe frost damage.

"Growers will probably shift mainly towards spring barley but there could be a drop in overall cereal acreage for next year," predicted Mr O'Mahony.

Meanwhile, winter oilseed rape acreage has also plummeted by close to 50pc this year.

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Despite an increase of around €60/t in the forward price of oilseed rape to €410/t, the area of ground sown to the crop is expected to collapse.

Teagasc figures show that 13,000ha of winter oilseed rape were sown in 2011 at prices of €350/t.

Variable rape yields and the late cereal harvest are to blame for the drop. Many growers were harvesting cereals in September when they should have been sowing oilseed rape crop.

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