Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Good times ahead but remain cautious

Pat Minnock

Pat Minnock

An excellent week to complete the cereal harvest meant dust was flying -- a pleasant change from the past two years. The serious lift in prices has also instilled renewed confidence in the tillage sector.

The next few weeks will be a very important time for growers. I would urge growers to remember the last two years -- are you likely to forget?

Remember you had to take what the merchant decided to give you for your crop and many were left with residue accounts. This is a different year. The prospect for grain prices is reasonably good. There was much confusion during the harvest with most merchants and co-ops refusing to indicate prices. Green barley prices of up to €150/t and green wheat prices of up to €165/t were available. Do your homework and don't settle for sad stories from your merchant. Only spring oilseed rape (yield indications look good at more than 1.2t/ac) and beans remain to be harvested.

Sowing of oilseed rape is proceeding well with acreage looking like being a new record. Try to complete sowing by September 10 and no later than the 15th for best results. Most available varieties will perform well, especially if planted into a good seed bed and on time. Forward contracts at €340/t are available. These contracts should be taken up. Butisan S or Katamaran should be applied pre-emergence for best option weed control.

The harvest of the new combi-crop in the Carlow area was completed last week. While I reported on this crop during the growing season and expressed some doubts on its ability to perform, I must state that, while some doubts still remain, the results achieved this year are fairly impressive.

I attended a harvest demonstration last week to see for myself if what was claimed would materialise. A 60pc barley (variety Westminster) and 40pc peas (variety Profit) mix was sown at around 100kg/ac in mid April. What makes this crop particularly attractive is the low material costs. The input costs were less than €80/ac. No fungicide had been used and, if I had one comment, I believe that an application of one fungicide would have added to yield as there was evidence of poorly filled grain in the rolled product.

The harvested crop was around 75pc barley and 25pc peas. The moisture content was dry with an average of about 14pc. The estimated protein of the crop would be about 14-15pc. The protein can be up to 20pc and this provides a good balanced high protein/ high starch ration with little need for protein supplementation. The crop is ideal for tillage farmers for farm inter-trading and would make for an ideal crop-share arrangement (see last week's article).

The harvesting and subsequent handling of the crop was a dream -- great weather. While I was concerned that the peas would ripen (and therefore shed) before the barley, I must admit that there was no evidence of pod shatter or pea loss. If anything there were some barley heads on the ground. This would appear to be because the crop had broken down badly as a result of desiccation.

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Other crops not desiccated had not broken down. The crop in question was being rolled and treated with 8l/t of proprionic acid straight off the combine. The end product was attractive, although another sample of the crop, which had been crimped at an average of 30pc moisture (25pc barley and 35pc peas), looked better. The drier product would have a slight advantage in feeding value. In addition to the feeding value of the grain crop, the feeding value and palatability of the straw is better than barley straw.

The value of the crop was estimated at €185-200/t when course ration prices are likely to be at least €225/t this winter.

  • Pat Minnock is based in the Carlow area. He is president of the ACA and a member of the ITCA. He can be contacted by emailing or to view his website, check out

Irish Independent

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