Facts and figures: The Irish tillage sector in 2019

It’s good to know where your sector stood in 2019 and how it compared to years gone by. This season saw the first increase in the area sown to cereals in a number of years – a positive for the tillage sector.

Following a decrease of 40,000ha from 2015 to 2018, the cereal area increased in 2019 – by 2% or approximately 5,100ha.

Crop areas for 2019 (Department of Agriculture, October 2019):
  • Winter wheat – 59,370ha;
  • Spring wheat – 3,784ha;
  • Winter barley – 82,410ha;
  • Spring barley – 96,072ha;
  • Winter oats – 16,593ha;
  • Spring oats – 7,120ha;
  • Rye – 463ha;
  • Triticale –  529ha;
  • Winter oilseed rape – 8,714ha;
  • Spring oilseed rape – 512ha;
  • Early potatoes – 609ha;
  • Maincrop potatoes – 7,435ha;
  • Seed potatoes – 216ha;
  • Beet – 9,877ha;
  • Maize – 16,516ha;
  • Peas – 639ha;
  • Winter beans – 822ha;
  • Spring beans – 6,578ha.

How did yields fair out?

Crops didn’t blow anyone away yield wise, but yields did return to more normal levels following on from the drought of 2018.

According to Teagasc’s Harvest Report, spring barley is estimated to have reached a record average yield of 8t/ha. The full list of average yields is below.

Estimated average crop yields for 2019:

Winter wheat – 10.10t/ha (4.08t/ac);
Spring wheat – 8.30t/ha (3.36t/ac);
Winter barley – 9.28t/ha (3.76t/ac);
Spring barley – 8.00t/ha (3.24t/ac);
Winter oats – 8.85t/ha (2.58t/ac);
Spring oats – 7.70t/ha (3.12t/ac);
Winter oilseed rape – 4.30t/ha (1.74t/ac);
Spring oilseed rape – 2.50t/ha (1.01t/ac);
Spring beans – 5.50t/ha (2.23t/ac).

Total production

Teagasc estimated total cereal production at 2.2 million tonnes. This is up from 2018’s figure of 1.8 million tonnes – this crop was hit by drought.

Estimated cereal production in 2019:
  • Winter wheat – 560,000t;
  • Spring wheat – 29,000t;
  • Winter barley – 729,000t;
  • Spring barley – 719,000t;
  • Winter oats – 137,000t;
  • Spring oats – 51,000t;
  • Total cereal production – 2,225,000t.

Winter cropping estimates

Teagasc estimates that winter cereal plantings are down dramatically – 51%.

Winter wheat area is estimated to be down 56% on 2019 levels, while winter barley is estimated to be down by 45%. The winter oat area is also estimated down by 64%.

The winter oilseed rape area also decreased (by 15%), while very little winter beans are thought to have been planted.

Data source: Teagasc