Farm Ireland

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Harvest potential hampered by rain

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Incessant rain could cut harvest yields by up to 1t/ac as wet weather diseases and poor grain fill take their toll.

IFA grain chairman Noel Delany said disease pressure on cereals crops across the country would cut their yield potential significantly.

With more rain forecast for the coming week, Teagasc tillage expert Jim O'Mahony said it was shaping up to be a very difficult harvest.

"Disease levels are threatening yeilds in all our cereals crops, while there is growing concern about the amount of crops lodged and tossed," he said. "Crows and pigeons are a big problem in those lodged crops," he added. "Crops were at a very vulnerable stage when we got very heavy rain and that has resulted in massive lodging in some fields of good crops," he explained.

"Between 10-20pc of oat crops are badly tossed or lodged, while up to 10pc of winter barley is lodged," he said. "Spring barley fared much better, with less than 1pc of crops lodged."

Blotch diseases, rhynchosporium and blight-type diseases are reportedly on the increase in crops, while poor grain fill due to dull, wet weather is cutting yeild expectations.

Harvesting of the first crops is set to be delayed by at least 10 days due to the record levels of rainfall last month.

Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures released on Thursday confirmed that the 2011 harvest was 23pc higher than 2010 at 2.5 million tonnes but Teagasc estimates show that the area sown to cereals this year increased again by almost 40,000ac.

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The latest CSO figures showed that wheat production increased by 38.9pc or 260,000t last year, driven by a 14.6pc jump in winter wheat yields and a 9.2pc increase in spring barley yields, as well as a 30pc increase in acreage sown.

Barley production increased by 15.5pc or 189,000t between 2010 and 2011, driven by a 7.1pc and 11.9pc increase in yields for winter and spring barley respectively. Spring barley had increased by 24.3pc during the twelve-month period and the area of spring barley fell.

The 2012 harvest is expected to fall a long way short of the record 2011 yields but another jump in prices being quoted for green grain this autumn will soften the blow for many producers.

Glanbia suppliers were quoted €190/t for green wheat and €185/t for green barley last week. All prices exclude VAT.

Prices on the London market for wheat have risen by more than a third since January.

The latest surge in prices has come on the back of fears of a poor US harvest due to drought conditions there.

Meanwhile, the weather has also adversely impacted on maize, peas and beans. Uncovered maize crops are still only six inches high, when they should be at least knee-high.

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