Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 February 2018

Concern grows for harvest as rain continues

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Concern is mounting among tillage growers that the 2012 harvest could turn into little more than a salvage operation.

While prices on offer for grain continue to rise on both the world and domestic markets, the chances of growers benefiting are slipping further with every wet day.

Irish prices have lifted by up to €20/t in the past fortnight but the increase will be of little use to growers if their harvest yields are slashed.

Cereal yields are expected to take a hammering if the wet weather continues, while ground conditions are continuing to deteriorate every day.

IFA grain chairman Noel Delany said growers were becoming increasingly concerned as the incessant rain continued.

"Heavy rain coupled with a lack of sunshine and below normal temperatures is taking its toll on crops, impacting negatively on yields," he warned.

"Ground conditions are deteriorating rapidly and even if weather improves, many fields will be slow to dry as water tables are much higher than normal and many soils have reached field capacity."

Mr Delany added that unless there was a rapid turnaround in weather and soil conditions, many growers could be facing substantial losses and a potential salvage operation.

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Cereal yields are expected to fall back by 1t/ac from the 2011 record yields as blight and wet weather diseases move through fields.


There are also fears that the malting barley crop could be drastically reduced this year due to the ongoing rain. Heavy leaching of nitrogen from the soil could reduce the protein content of grain and result in the grain going for feed instead of malting.

Irish prices for both new and old crop grain have surged by up to €20/t in the past two weeks, following the international trend. Quotes for old crop dried wheat are up €20/t in the past fortnight to €260/t, while old crop barley is up €15/t to €245/t. New crop dried wheat for September/October collection has moved up €15/t to €230/t and new crop barley is up €17/t to €225/t.

Harvest quotes for green grain have also hardened, with €192-194/t on offer for wheat and €187-189/t for barley for September delivery.

The international price increases are being driven by reductions in harvest forecasts.

Drought in the United States corn belt and the former Soviet Union has resulted in major falls in the predicted harvest.

Both US maize and world wheat production estimates have been revised downward, as has global soya bean production. Analysts estimate that total grain production in the Black Sea region could fall by 35mt this year.

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