Tillagemen upbeat on prospects
With prospects for this year's harvest looking positive, the mood among farmers at last week's Teagasc National Tillage Conference was upbeat.
Teagasc director of research Dr Frank O'Mara welcomed the turnaround in growers' fortunes and said tillage farmers were riding on the crest of a wave.
Cereal growers experienced a net margins change of €500/ha between 2009 and last year, excluding single farm payments, while the top one-third of growers had a gross margin of €450/ha last year. Forecasts are for similar margins this year.
However, Dr O'Mara warned that while growers could anticipate a rise in prices for this year's harvest, they could also expect significant increases in costs for fertiliser, fuel and energy. Dr O'Mara welcomed the changes to the Nitrates rules, which he claimed were brought in on the basis of scientific evidence provided by Teagasc.
Meanwhile, Teagasc tillage expert Tim O'Donovan confirmed that at least 6,000ha of winter oats was destroyed by the winter frost. Damage levels ranged from 50pc to 90pc in individual counties. This is believed to be the biggest crop loss since 1978.