Straw price cut adds to farmer weather woes

Fields are harvested and straw is baled.
Fields are harvested and straw is baled.
Ann Fitzgerald

Ann Fitzgerald

A SHARP reduction in the price being paid for wheaten straw by mushroom growers coupled with the break in the weather is compounding an already difficult harvest for tillage farmers.

Naas based Teagasc tillage advisor Ivan Whitten said the large volumes of top quality winter barley straw has resulted in it being baled up into big bales for compost and this is being used to undermine the price of wheaten straw, with large 8x4x4 bales back by €5-7 on last year's €24.

However, the determination of tillage farmers to sell hard looks to be paying some dividends.

While quoted prices for feed barley generally remain at €130-135/t, there are reports that the €140/t announced by Brett Bros in Kilkenny is now being more widely paid by millers.

Winter barley harvest is now mostly complete. Winter wheat is now underway and, reflecting the mixed weather, moisture levels are reported to be variable, from 17-22pc.

Tim Sheahan of Farmco in Mallow says the spring barley harvest is also progressing, at yields of around 3t/ac. Winter wheat yields are averaging around 4t/ac and up to 80kph and prices of €145-150/t. Tim described spring oats as "good quality, yield OK."

Merchants in Kildare, likewise report oats quality as good, and yields from 3.5-3.75t/ac.

However, with more heavy rains forecast over the weekend, Helen Harris says some local farmers had decided to cut spring barley late last week even if it was slightly high in moisture.

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Patrick Byrne in Louth has finished cutting oats which "did well, at 3.75t/ac, but struggled to bushel." He has started wheat and says it is yielding "4t, not 4.5t".

Meanwhile Tom Bryan, technical manager with Boormalt reports an excellent start to the malting barley harvest. Yields are very good, at up to 4t, more generally 3.25- 3.5t, and protein is excellent, in the range of 8.8-10.8pc.

A new tighter approach to the management of the crop between farmers, Teagasc and Boormalt of the crop looks set to prove very successful, he added.

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