Winter barley growers face 'severe' yield losses from crop virus

File photo. Pic: REUTERS/Mike Sturk
File photo. Pic: REUTERS/Mike Sturk
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

SOME winter barley growers are facing yield losses of 1.5t/ac due to severe problems with barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV).

The problems appear to be most prevalent in Leinster where growers report an increased disease pressure.

However, all areas are experiencing greater challenges with BYDV infections this harvest.

Michael Hennessy of Teagasc said winter barley yields were generally averaging around 4t/ac, but that crops that were badly hit by BYDV were coming in as low as 2.5t/ac.

And early reports this week indicated that yields in some parts of south Leinster could be as low as 1t/ac on crops hit by BYDV compared to yields of up to 5t/ac on treated crops.

The 1.5t/ac drop in yield equates to a monetary loss of around €220/ac at a harvest price of €145/t.

Mr Hennessy, who heads up Teagasc's crops knowledge transfer department, said that winter barley crops that were sown early appear to be particularly prone to BYDV difficulties.

With the use of the seed dressing Redigo Deter now prohibited, Mr Hennessy said growers will be forced to plant winter barley later in the autumn to limit exposure to the virus.

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Meanwhile, strong yields but stunted progress was the story of the harvest over the last week, as combines were forced to dodge the intermittent rain showers.

However, more than half of the winter barley crop has been cut at this stage, with that figure topping the two-thirds mark in much of the south and southeast.

The general consensus across the country is that crops are averaging around 4t/ac, with some exceptional crops topping 4.5t/ac.

Moistures of 16-18pc are being reported in most areas, with kph values ranging from a base of 62-64, to a high of 66-68.

Break crops

Growers report that crops are generally averaging around 4t/ac, with 4.5-4.75t/ac being achieved in exceptional cases.

Ground sown after break crops is said to be doing up to 0.5t/ac better than lands in continuous tillage.

Up to 70pc of the winter barley in Kilkenny and south Tipperary has been cut, with most crops in the 3.75-4.25t/ac range.

In the northeast, most of the winter barley was coming in between 3.6t/ac and 4t/ac.

Mr Hennessy said that brackling was a problem with many varieties this year as the heads had ripened but the straw was still green.

He said crops could be very easily tossed in the wind and rain and he advised farmers to cut if the grain moisture was right.

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