First yields good but combine will tell real story

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Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The cereal harvest is up and running as combines roll into winter barley crops across the south and east on the back of the recent warm weather.

Early reports from south Tipperary and Kilkenny suggest that winter barley crops are yielding 3.75-4t/ac and coming in at around 18-20pc moisture and 64-66kph.

While crops have been slow to ripen in many areas, the weather has been described by growers and advisors as providing ideal grain-filling conditions.

But growers cautioned that very few crops have been harvested to date and it is therefore difficult to predict yields with any degree of authority.

"Although crops are in excellent fettle and look really well, the combine will tell the real story," one south Tipperary farmer commented.

Harvesting conditions are described as near perfect thanks to the lift in temperatures since the weekend. With over 25°C reported in the east and south, moisture levels are expected to fall below the 18-20pc currently being recorded.

Although harvest prices have not been set, they are expected to come in at around €145/t for green barley and €155/t for green wheat. There was significant activity on the futures markets on the back of the latest USDA harvest report, which lowered its forecast for world wheat production this year by over 9m tonnes, including a 3.8m tonne decrease to projected output in Russia. As a consequence, milling wheat on Paris-based Euronext hardened to €178/t. Over 10pc of the grain crop in France has already been harvested, with decent yields being reported.

Irish grain yields are forecast to bounce back to over 2.2m tonnes this harvest, up around 350,000 tonnes on the 2018 harvest.

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However, this forecast yield will still be 200,000 tonnes back on 2017, with the area planted for this year's harvest the second lowest on record.

Meanwhile, Irish Grain Growers (IGG) has accused the Department of Agriculture, the Government and other farm organisations of "hypocrisy" in their attitude to the Mercosur deal.

Blind eye

"There is no point highlighting the environmental impact of this Mercosur deal if you turn a blind eye to the increasing volume of grains arriving into this country," IGG stated.

"We have farm bodies and politicians repeatedly saying of late that the produce of Mercosur countries would be illegal to produce here, yet they are not rejecting to feed their livestock at present with grains from Mercosur countries.

"We tillage farmers have been competing with Mercosur countries on world grain markets for many a year now and it is often thrown in our face the price of GMO maize, soya and palm when we go to trade our grain.

"We are opposed to the Mercosur deal, but our politicians, our farm lobby groups, our meat industry, our dairy industry, our co-ops, our retailers, our citizens, they must oppose Mercosur grain too or we are just being hypocritical."

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