Latest Teagasc estimates suggest that 6,000ha of oilseed rape has been sown by tillage farmers this year.

This is down from 8,000ha last year and 15,000-16,000 hectares in 2013.

According to Faisal Zahoor of Teagasc, yield volatility and fluctuations in the price are the big issues facing the crop.

Speaking at Teagasc’s Crops and Spraying event Zahoor said in 2011 farmers were getting €400/t for oilseed rape. This year the price has fallen to €300/t.

“Farmers don’t like that kind of volatility,” he said.

Zahoor outlined the problem in terms of price with oilseed rape in Ireland is that the price is mainly driven by the world market.

He said there is little or no processing of oilseed rape in Ireland and, in this respect, the country is losing out.

“Almost 80% of the crop is currently exported to the EU and opportunities for adding value are being lost.

“Almost more unfortunate is the fact that we are exporting the crop in raw form to Germany or the UK. They are processing the crop over there and we are buying it back in the form of edible oils.”

Zahoor said there is a substantial market for edible oils in Ireland. Currently, Irish imports of edible oils are around 200,000t and while our production is only 10,000t. This is a huge gap, he said.

“If a processor came in and managed to process the crop in Ireland. Two products would be possible one is the vegetable oil and the other is protein meal.

“The processor would be able to get €1,000-1,100/t of value from the crop. That would ultimately benefit the farmer due to a trickle down effect.”

Zahoor was also confident that there is potential for the area under oilseed rape to be increased. Research has shown that at least half of our imports could be replaced by our own production, he said.