Farm Ireland
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Friday 21 September 2018

Tillage and dairy farmers striking deals on winter wheat and barley

The prices paid depend on the yield potential and the quality of the crops
The prices paid depend on the yield potential and the quality of the crops
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Tillage and dairy farmers in the south east have been doing deals over the last two weeks for standing crops of winter wheat and winter barley for whole-cropping.

While the extent of the business being done is unclear, it is understood that a number of deals have been agreed between cereal growers and milk suppliers who are short of grass.

 Grass growth has collapsed across the south over the last week, with farmers in south Leinster and east Munster generally reporting growth rates between 45kg/ha/day and 20kg/ha/day.

 However, with grazing ground burning up right across the region, and little hope of rain for the next week, dairy farmers have been actively securing alternate feed sources.

The prices paid depend on the yield potential and the quality of the crops, and on the harvesting and supply arrangements between the parties.  However, it has been suggested that prices generally vary between €850 and €950/ac.

 Michael Hennessy of Teagasc urged cereal growers to take a long-term view of these deals and to offer the highest-yielding crops that would give the best price return to the grower and value for money to the dairy farmer.

Bobby Miller of the Irish Grain Growers Group said the farmer-to-farmer trade also offered the potential to introduce “some much-needed competition” into the grain-buying market. Over the last week, grain markets have hardened, with €170-175/t being mentioned as a price for green barley at 20pc moisture.

Another potential income source for tillage farmers is the planting of catch crops immediately after harvest for dairy and beef units that are short of fodder.

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Mr Hennessy said the level of demand for fodder, and this summer’s early harvest, provided an opportunity for growers to plant stubble turnips or stubble rape as fodder crops for livestock farmers.

These crops would be ready for grazing by the end of September or early October if planted in July.

However, as they have to be grazed in the field, growers may have to switch to spring cereals on any lands used for these crops since it could be a tight turnaround to get winter cereals sown after the catch crops are grazed. 

Another option being considered by tillage farmers is to sow westerwolds ryegrass for silage.

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