'There's been hundreds of thousands of pounds lost' - Northern farmers count the cost after wet weather cuts crop and silage yields
Poor weather conditions have been blamed for the lowest silage yield recorded in Northern Ireland in 12 years.
The area of hay saved by our farmers also decreased in 2017, by almost two-fifths to approximately 7,000 hectares - the lowest level ever recorded - with yields also tumbling to a 15-year low.
The figures were released yesterday by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) as part of its December Agricultural Survey 2017.
The survey shows that adverse weather conditions hampered silage cuts and, as a result, a drop in average silage yield to 29.5 tonnes per hectare - the lowest recorded in Northern Ireland since 2006.
Overall, the planting of cereal crops was down 20pc at the beginning of December 2017 in comparison with the previous year.
The sowing of winter wheat amounted to a total of 5,700 hectares - a 22pc decrease on 2016 - while the amount of winter barley sown covered 6,400 hectares, representing a 10pc drop in comparison to the previous 12 months.
Allan Chambers, an expert in seeds and cereals at the Ulster Farmers Union, told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday that it had been impossible to sow crops on large swathes of land last autumn.
"It was because of wet soil conditions from persisent rainfall. Soils were at saturation point on some farms, as a result there were real difficulties," he said.