‘Feed barley price of €160/t needed’

Feed barley needs to be at a base price of €160/t and wheat €15-18/t above that, according to the Irish Grain Growers Group Chairperson Bobby Miller.

Speaking with AgriLand, Miller highlighted the “almost endless” run of bad years for Irish tillage farmers, in terms of yield and price. In 2012, while grain prices were good, this was counteracted by low yields.

With yields this year expected to be slightly up from 2016 figures, Miller has called for better prices to help alleviate the pressure on struggling tillage farmers.

Miller also emphasised the need for Irish grain to be marketed more strongly by Bord Bia and called on consumers to support Irish, traceable, quality-assured, GM-free grain. He added, more investment in research and development in the tillage sector is essential for the future of the industry.

Protein content value?

The Irish Grain Growers Group Chairperson posed the question: Should farmers be paid for higher protein content grain?

Currently, a high protein content of 13% receives the same price as a lower protein content of 8-9%. Miller indicated that there should be a value for having a higher protein content.

As an example, Miller said: “Set the base price at 9% protein and for every 1% rise in protein the tillage farmer should receive an extra €5/t.

Overall, at 11% protein the farmer would get an additional €10/t. For a 3.5t/ac crop that’s worth an extra €35/ac.

Yields to be up slightly

Winter barley yields are expected to be slightly up from 2016 figures, according to Miller.

“While there is a lot of grain still to be delivered, average yields of 3.5t/ac indicate a slight increase on 2016 yields,” he said.

Harvest 2017 is well underway in some parts of the country, with crops ripening up to a week earlier than last year. Tillage farmers in the south-east with smaller acreage are near finished. However, those with larger volumes will now have to wait out the turn in the weather to get harvest remaining crops.

“The current rain is a worry. The harvest is at a full stop,” Miller said.

Farmers should be content with grain quality, he said, with bushel weights in the low-to-mid 60s. Moisture content has been reported very low by grain merchants across the country, with drying unnecessary in some cases.

Miller reported a moisture content of 13% in a crop harvested Tuesday night, with the average being 16-17% across the country.

Miller concluded, reminding tillage farmers to be vigilant this time of year: “At this busy time make sure safety takes priority.”