2018 average crop returns increase – but varies by location

Preliminary figures from Teagasc confirm that returns on crops increased for many tillage farmers in 2018, with higher gross output and lower costs being the main cause.

Despite yields for winter wheat and spring barley being down by 22%, the higher grain and straw prices resulted in an increase on the average profitability for these crops by more than 50%, compared with 2017.

However, Teagasc warns that these figures are calculated from a small number of farms, and results depend heavily on their location.

We must be careful when looking at the 2018 figures, as the results will be very different depending on where a farmer was located in 2018.

“We know farms with a mix of winter and spring crops in the north-east returned reasonable yields and fared better than farmers dependent on spring crops in the south-east,” said Michael Hennessy, head of crops knowledge transfer at Teagasc.

“Farmers will continue to collate their figures in the coming months and we will have a clearer picture of the situation towards the middle of 2019,” added Hennessy.

The results were collected and analysed through the Teagasc e-Profit Monitor, which shows that farms categorised as spring cereals had the lowest returns, while farms with a mix of crops fared better.

2017

In 2017, some 340 farms, totalling over 25,000ha, were analysed through the e-Profit Monitor. It found that spring cereals gave returns of €261/ha while, on the other end of the scale, farms categorised as both winter and spring cereals saw returns of €322/ha.

When all the data from around the country is collected, Teagasc expects to see a similar disparity between spring crop only farms and mixed-crop farms for 2018.

Overall, this would continue the improving trend in the tillage sector since 2016; that year, the average net margin for tillage farmers was €106/ha, which more than trebled in 2017 to €343/ha.

Late in 2018, Teagasc began releasing estimated year-end figures for cereal margins and the tillage sector, which included its Annual Review and Outlook 2019 report.

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