Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 March 2018

Long-term viability of tillage under threat: IFA

Growers facing 'very challenging' year

Tillage farmers are a fortnight behind on last year
Tillage farmers are a fortnight behind on last year
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Grain prices are expected to remain volatile, as weather continues to threaten harvest prospects.

Many tillage farmers report they are a fortnight behind on last year, due to the "stop start" harvest as they dodge the rains across the southern half of the country.

Early reports on the yield are strong, but many have cautioned that it will take several more days of cutting to provide accurate reports.

Farmer and contractor Ted O'Leary, from Conna, Co Cork, recorded yields of around 4t/ac in a crop of Cassia Leibniz winter barley. "It looks like an average harvest," he said. "We've a few good yields. It is a stop start harvest we haven't got two straight days in a row. We've a couple of four tonnes but we haven't got into the bulk of it yet. We haven't cut most of our good land yet. We're still two weeks behind."


However, the initial quality reports from the south are strong, with bushel weights from 66kph to 72kph on dried samples.

"We've recorded 17 or 18pc moisture," said Mr O'Leary with up to 600ac of winter barley left to cut.

Recent trade saw new crop Irish dried wheat prices rally midweek to €192 to €194/t, but they fell back to €190/t by the end of last week.

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Maize at one stage moved to over €203/t before easing back to €198 to €200/t by close of business. However, barley closed the week down €2/t at €172 to 174/t.

IFA national grain committee chair Liam Dunne said the industry must support growers with strong grain prices in what is proving a "very challenging year financially". He said current offers for green and dried grain are significantly below the cost of production.

Mr Dunne pointed out low prices combined with rising fertiliser costs and average yields was threatening long-term viability.

"Traditionally Irish grain has traded at a discount to import parity and this must change. This year's crop is of exceptional quality and should command a premium over inferior imports," said Mr Dunne.

"Failure to support grain farmers will see a serious contraction of the industry over the coming years."

He said this would have serious consequences for the intensive poultry industry.

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