Winter wheat prices to hit €170-175 per tonne as dairy farmers buy standing crops

Ronnie Bellew

Farmers were forecasting a fall in winter barley yields of 0.5t/ac on average as combines wrapped up the last of the crop in the east and north-east this week.

General reports indicate that yields have been variable, with most crops ranging from 2.5t/ac to 4t/ac and averaging around 3.5t/ac.

This represents a drop in overall yield of around 0.3-0.5t/ac. In addition, growers report a significant fall-off in straw, with volumes back around 40pc in many areas.

Two-row varieties yielded around 3.7/t on average at 65kph in north Kildare. The six-row varieties yielded stronger at 3.9t/ac and 13-15pc moisture, but quality has been poorer, with bushelling of around 60kph.

The winter oats harvest has kicked off in the south, with early crops averaging around 3t/ac at 16-17pc moisture and 53-55kph.

With the winter wheat harvest around 10 days off, IFA grain chairman Mark Browne said there were increasing reports of dairy farmers buying standing crops for whole-cropping.

Prices are understood to range from €900/ac to €1,000/ac, with most of the dairy farmer purchases reported in Cork, Waterford and Wexford.

Merchants are continuing to hold off setting prices but the general view in the trade is that a base of €170-175/t will have to be paid to secure supplies. Industry sources predicted that merchant quotes could be €10/t below actual price levels.

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Mr Browne said grain supplies will be tight across the EU, with severe drought conditions in north-western Europe and Poland, while thunder and hail storms have caused serious crop losses in south-west France.


After five years of low grain prices, the IFA leader urged tillage farmers to demand a viable return for their product and warned merchants against any attempts to undermine the market.

He also advised growers to consider all options available such as whole crop in order to maximise returns from their business.

However, while winter crops look reasonable, late-sown spring crops have been decimated by the drought.

Tillage farmers in north Leinster forecast that spring barley and spring wheat yields could be well under 2t/ac. They warned that end of the harvest could become a salvage operation, with many spring oilseed rape and spring beans crops already written off by growers.

"At best yields are predicted to be only average due to the wet, cold spring and subsequent drought conditions, while it would appear that grain and straw volume will be poor, particularly along the east and south-east coast," Mr Browne said.

The IFA representative claimed that tillage was now a vulnerable sector and he called for "urgent political action" at local and EU level to protect it.

He said an increased dependence on expensive feed ingredient imports of variable quality was not an option as it threatened the viability of the livestock sector.

"For many tillage farmers, the basic payment represents 100pc of income, so it is critically important that increased funding is secured for the CAP budget so that cuts over recent years can be reversed," Mr Browne said.

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