Consider forward selling of wheat and barley stocks
We have just experienced some of the best sowing conditions we might reasonably expect. This has led to a renewed interest in planting of winter cereals.
The acreage of winter oilseed rape has increased by more than two-and-a-half times, to a high of about 9,000ha. Winter barley has easily doubled, as has wheat, especially when home-saved seed is factored in. There are varying reports on the winter oat acreage planted and, if some of the figures currently indicated are correct, there will be enormous pressure on oat prices next autumn.
After a few difficult autumns, the area of cereals sown appears to have shifted back towards winter sowings, with spring barley now unlikely to greatly exceed the 50pc of total planting next year, and winter wheat is likely to make up a quarter of the total cereal area planted.
Forward selling of wheat and barley must be considered. Some of the more organised growers have locked in wheat prices for November next year, at prices around €170/t. Unfortunately, forward prices seem to have slipped slightly and are now just below the €170/t mark. If €170/t or more can be obtained, growers would do well to sell forward a portion -- minimum 20-33pc -- of their expected output.
I believe a €5 differential with barley should be more likely next year. Selling now for a definite price reduces your gamble and allows for better planning, especially when trying to sort out bank facilities for next year.
It is now too late to sow barley or oats. However, wheat or triticale can still be sown. More care and attention should now be taken when considering what fields to sow. Remember, from now on, weather conditions for seed germination and plant development and growth will be deteriorating. The more north facing, the heavier, wetter and colder a field is, the longer seed will take to germinate and the greater the number of problems that will be experienced.
Winter wheat seed has become scarce, with mainly imported seed only available. This will only add to your costs, so carefully consider all the factors. Early sown spring wheat or barley will get off to a quicker start next year and, more than likely, give better returns.
In the fields, all winter barley and early sown oats and wheat should have received an insecticide spray at this stage. A second insecticide application should be considered for all early sown crops which received their first spray more than three weeks ago. Frosty mornings will help to curtail aphid activity, but this issue is still there during the day when temperatures rise -- and there is still the danger of barley yellow dwarf virus.