Facts and figures: The Irish tillage sector 2018

There were a lot of changes in tillage stats this year. Weather conditions caused a decrease in winter cropping and the area was replaced by a slight increase in spring barley area and fodder crops like maize.

Yield was the other big story. It was down overall, as a result of the summer’s drought.

Area of crops

253,000ha of cereal crops were sown in the 2018 season – a reduction of 6.8% on 2017. Poor sowing conditions in autumn and winter put a start to the decrease in area as farmers struggled to get winter crops planted.

The area of land sown to winter wheat in the 2017/2018 season finished at 53,900ha. Winter barley area in 2017/2018 was 57,200ha, while 10,100ha of winter oats were planted in the 2017/2018 season.

Yields

Yields were back dramatically this year, mainly due to the summer’s drought. Spring barley crops saw the lowest average yield since 2002. Cereal production was down by 22% overall. Spring wheat took the biggest yield hit. It was slashed by 58%.

Winter barley came out best with a yield decrease of 15% at an average yield of 8.8t/ha.

Spring barley carried the biggest area in 2018 at 126,200ha. The average yield of spring barley across the country was 5.62t/ha – down 22%.

Source: Teagasc
Also Read: 2018 harvest: Lowest average spring barley yield since 2002

Winter sowing

The dry year resulted in a massive increase in the area of winter crops sown for the 2018/2019 season. As the autumn of 2017 was extremely difficult for sowing and many farmers were then hit with poor yields in spring crops, many growers opted to increase the area planted to winter crops this autumn (2018).

Also Read: Winter cereal area up 27,800ha – Teagasc estimates

The area planted to winter cereals is estimated to have increased by 27,800ha.

Winter barley saw the biggest increase in area on the 2017/2018 season; it increased by 17,800ha (31%) to 75,000ha.

Winter wheat area increased by 8,100ha (15%), while winter oats area increased by 1,900ha (19%). The area sown to winter oilseed rape is not estimated to have increased, while the winter bean area increased by approximately 40ha, according to Teagasc.