Farm Ireland

Friday 15 December 2017

Growers face volatile prices with harvest in full flow

Farmers made the most of the weekend's dry weather
Farmers made the most of the weekend's dry weather

Louise Hogan and Darragh McCullough

The harvest is destined for an "unusually late" finish in September, despite progress made in the last few days after the break in the wet weather.

Prices remain volatile, with many insiders noting that investors were "unnerved" by the sudden devaluation of the Chinese currency combined with a surprise upwards revision of US maize output.

"It is a tense time to be perfectly honest on weather, crops and prices. There is a certain amount of nervousness around," said the IFA's Liam Dunne, after two years of poor prices.

The winter barley is averaging around 3.9t/ac, with indications of good yields from winter oats. Deals on green barley are ranging from €138/t to €146/t, with some early wheat traded as high as €165/t.

Tillage farmer Noel Delany in Fethard, Co Tipperary said most farmers without regular or organised buyers were encountering major problems selling straw, with most oaten straw being chopped.

However, while straw prices are weaker this year, wheat growers that avoided using shorteners such as Terpal and Canopy, are hopeful of good demand from mushroom composters.

Products containing the active ingredient, mepiquat, have been ruled out by the mushroom industry after residues above the legal limit were detected in a mushroom sample in 2014.

The Department of Agriculture stated there are no human health risks but mushroom growers have been told to only use compost that does not contain straw treated with mepiquat.

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Meanwhile, the destruction of a 17ac field of standing barley by fire was narrowly averted in north Dublin last week due to the "heroic" efforts of four fire brigade crews. Straw swaths were set on fire just outside Balbriggan last Wednesday evening at 5.30pm, with the plume of smoke visible over 25km away.

Paul Delehan and his brother Finn, along with neighbours, worked with fire brigade crews for nearly three hours. They managed to stop it moving into the neighbouring field where Delehans had 17ac of spring barley on the point of harvest.

Indo Farming