Farm Ireland

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Winter sowings plummet in fringe tillage regions

Ian Howard ploughing and sowing 200ac at LittleGrange Slane, Co Meath of a new Californian winter barley variety. Photo: Seamus Farrelly
Ian Howard ploughing and sowing 200ac at LittleGrange Slane, Co Meath of a new Californian winter barley variety. Photo: Seamus Farrelly
Glanbia chairman Henry Corbally
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

A major fall-off in winter cereal sowings is being reported in the fringe tillage areas this autumn.

Merchants say plantings in west Cork, north Tipperary and west Waterford have been extremely slow this autumn, with the poor weather and low cereal prices undermining farmer confidence.

Donal Fitzgerald of Goldcrop claimed up to 10,000ha of winter cereals could be lost this year as a result of the late harvest and difficult weather conditions.

He said much of this could switch to spring crops, but he said the continuing low margins in the sector meant that the overall acreage would certainly be down.

This view was shared by Nigel White of Seedtech, who maintained that eventual area sown will be influenced by weather conditions over the next three weeks.

The total area of cereals sown has fallen by 140,000ac or 20pc in the 10 years, IFA has claimed.

Seed sales for winter crop sowings have been unusually quiet this autumn, with low grain prices and weather difficulties combining to hit sowings.

However, seed companies report strong sales this week in the core tillage regions. A shift to hardier varieties of barley and wheat has been a notable feature of sales patterns to date.

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Mr Fitzgerald said growers were willing to sacrifice yield for "more robust" varieties that could withstand poor weather and were resistant to sprouting.

The big Goldcrop sellers on the barley front were Casia and Infinity, while the wheat variety Costello had been sold out.

Nigel White of Seedtech said there has been a definite hybrid varieties of winter barley because of the improved straw and grain characteristics.

He said the big selling hybrids so far were Quadra, Bazooka and Belfry, with the six-row conventional variety Kosmos also in demand.

Meanwhile, Glanbia has announced its final grain prices for the 2017 harvest.

The price paid to co-op member for feed barley is €147/t, for malting barley is €169/t, for feed wheat is €157/t, for oilseed rape is €364/t, and for feed beans is €172/t.

The members' price for equine oats is €157/t, while €183/t is being paid for food grade oats, and €197/t for gluten free oats. All non-member prices are €14/t under these levels.

Glanbia confirmed that grain grower co-op members will be paid a rebate of €7/t on all fertiliser purchases from the company.

Glanbia Ireland's chairman, Henry Corbally, said the prices announced showed the company's commitment "to helping our grain growers through this challenging period of over-supply in global grain markets."

Poor weather and low cereal prices denting farmers' confidence

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