Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 19 September 2018

'Even if it rains now, it's too late for some crops' - Farmers struggle in the heat as 'crop yields down by half'

John Murphy with his failed barley. Photo: Steve Humphreys
John Murphy with his failed barley. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Laura Lynott

Many Irish farmers are struggling in the heatwave with one tillage farmer now concerned his income is about to be halved, as he fears he will lose 50pc of his crops in the rising temperatures.

John Murphy (37), who has a farm in Arklow, Co Wicklow, and one in Wexford, said after the severe winter, followed by the extreme temperatures, his crops - particularly barley - just won't cut the muster for sale.

That places the father of three young children in a precarious position.

"Half the crops will be a very poor yield due to the weather," Mr Murphy said. "We have been particularly badly hit by the harsh winter and then this heatwave.

"It hasn't rained for so long and for some crops, it's too late, for barley in particular. I've also less oat and no wheat.

"I've some oat for cattle feed, which would be normally sold for the porridge industry but there's no point sowing it so late now, because oats need to be sowed in late April.

"Barley is under real stress, you can see the inner leaves not growing at the rate they should. They should be 12 inches tall and instead they are six inches. I think the crops will burn in and we will be down half on yield and I imagine, half my income."

Mr Murphy said he has photos on his phone from the same field two years ago and the barley and grain were "fully merged" in the field. It was a completely different picture on his Arklow farm yesterday, which looked somewhat barren in comparison.

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"The field was green and my crops were shooting up two years ago," he said. "I'm now looking at a field of brown clay and barley three or four inches above ground.

"I'm going through a worrying time. I was on the news during the snow in March. I was on the news again in May and we were dried out, it's one extreme to the other. I've never seen anything like this and now I don't know what to do with some of my crops," he said.

"I have two lads employed part-time and you're worried 'how long can I sustain this?'

"Even if it rains now, it's too late for some crops. Rain would help in some way but the potential for yield is diminishing.

"It's not about financial reward, but I have a 10-month-old, a two-and-a-half-year-old and a four-year-old. One is starting school, another is starting playschool. My wife is going back to work, you worry you won't be able to manage."

He said the State and MEPs need to do more for farmers at times of extreme weather when they can't be guaranteed a healthy crop.

He said a new cap reform should not be instigated on farmers who need financial support to assist with keeping their businesses afloat, to buy new machinery and create and sustain jobs.

Irish Independent

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