New season barley is making up to €140/t, according to Wexford-based grain merchant John Cullen.

“That’s up €10/t on this time last year,” he said.

“Barley is coming off the combine at between 17% and 21% moisture. We dry most of the barley taken in down to 14% moisture. This is subsequently sold on to local pig farmers and feed compounders.”

Drummonds in Drogheda confirmed that the winter barley harvest is only getting underway now in the North East with very small acreages cut to date.

Initial indications are that crop quality is good but it will take a number of weeks before yields can be accurately assessed. However, it is not quoting prices for new season winter barley yet.

John Cullen confirmed that winter barley crops in the South East are yielding surprisingly well, despite the cold spring conditions.

“Earlier in the year, many tillage farmers were predicting that winter barley crops would be doing well to yield up to 3t/ac. But as it turns out, most crops are coming in at between 3.3t to 4.3t/ac. It is particularly evident this year that yields are a factor of soil quality and the rotations followed by growers.

“And it is not only the new hybrid varieties that are coming off the combine with yields in excess of 4t. Crops of the two row variety Cassius have performed tremendously well in the Wexford area this year.”

Cullen said that the only downside to the barley harvest to date is the lack of demand for straw.

“It’s just not moving at all. And this is an issue that is giving growers cause for concern. The other issue now coming to prominence is the weather forecast. Rain has stopped play in this area.

“Growers are hoping that they might get a short combining window available to them later in the week. The poor weather might well have implications for growers who sprayed crops with Roundup over the past few days. ”

Turning to winter rape, Cullen confirmed that the first of this year’s crops will be ready for the combine over the coming days.

“And, again, crops are looking well. But the weather will determine when they can be harvested,” he said.

The IFA’s latest grain market report says that yields are ranging from 3.4t/ac to 4.2t/ac with some exceptional fields doing higher. Latest indications would suggest a 10% to 13% yield reduction on last season.

Moisture content off the combine is 2 to 3 percentage points higher. Reports on the quality front are excellent with bushel weights ranging from 66kph to 72kph on dried samples.

New crop Irish dried wheat prices closed the week down at €183/t to €185/t compared to €188/t to €190/t last Friday.

New crop dried barley was marginally lower this week trading from €172/t to €173/t. New crop maize was the biggest faller for the week trading at €190/t compared to €198/t for the previous week’s close.

Grain prices are expected to remain volatile as harvest pressure builds, it says.