Farm Ireland

Friday 23 March 2018

Cereal sowings set to tumble another 15pc

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Cereal sowings for the 2010 harvest are expected to fall by 15pc, Teagasc tillage experts have predicted.

The drop comes on top of a 13.4pc fall in sowings for the 2009 harvest and brings the total cereal reduction over the past two years to more than 18pc.

Spring barley is expected to take the biggest hit as tillage farmers drop unproductive land and expensive conacre in the face of poor grain price prospects.

In 2009, more than 156,000ha of tillage ground was sown to spring barley but this is expected to fall considerably for 2010.

Spring wheat area, which usually averages around 20,000ha, is also expected to fall in 2010 due to farmer disenchantment with production yields last year.

The figures for winter crops show a swing from winter wheat to winter barley.

The area sown to winter barley for 2010 is estimated to be 30pc higher than 2009, albeit from a low base of 17,800ha.

However, the higher figure for winter barley is expected to be cancelled out by a reduction in winter wheat area due to extremely wet weather in the back end of 2009.

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Teagasc tillage expert Jim O'Mahony described the predicted 15pc drop in cereal sowings as a considerable fall.

"There is a lot of pessimism among tillage farmers and sowings will be well back because of poor prospects for harvest prices," he explained.

"People are walking away from expensive conacre.


"The penny has dropped that farmers will lose money on rented land and they don't need a crop to claim their single farm payment.

"Very, very few tillage farmers are giving anything like €120-130/ac for conacre, the average is now closer to €100/ac or less."

Tim O'Donovan from Teagasc added that farmers were not prepared to sow cereals on land that was unproductive, particularly if it was rented land.

However, some commentators believe that Teagasc had underestimated the fall in cereal sowings for 2010.

IFA grain chairman Noel Delaney maintained spring barley sowings would fall by 30pc, taking close to 50,000ha out of production this year.

"At a grain price of €105/t, you would need 2.8t/ac of spring barley just to break even on owned land and at €85/t you would need 3.2t/ac to break even but the average yield is closer to 2.5t/ac," Mr Delaney said.

The grain chairman said that some growers were cutting their spring barley sowings by as much as 50pc.

Mr Delaney added that conacre deals were being closed at €80-100/ac, with some bigger growers securing deals for between €30/ac and €70/ac.

Irish Independent