The weather conditions in Ireland continue to be favourable for crop development and in general crop growth conditions throughout Europe are beneficial, according to the latest MARS report.

The latest Monitoring Agricultural ResourceS (MARS) report says that this is reflected in its forecasts, which at EU 28 level are above average of the last five years.

Crop yield forecasts by MARS are less than 1% down across wheat and barley crops in Ireland.

In the UK and Ireland, the vegetative status of pastures is also quite positive and winter crop development is close to an average year, it says.

In the central regions of Ukraine, persistent rainfall since March 20 caused significant delays to the sowing of spring barley, and some fields may not have been sown, it says.

By contrast, sowing conditions were favourable in western Russia, with the exception of some areas where intense rainfall in April may have delayed sowing activities, MARS says.

Rainfall in western and central regions of Romania during the sowing window did not cause much delay and sowing activities proceeded normally in Hungary, it found.

Warmer-than-usual conditions in Ireland during February and March promoted the rapid growth of grasslands, it says.

MARS says that temperatures remained below seasonal values in April, leading to a slight decrease in biomass production rates.

Rainfall during the past three months has been quite abundant in Ireland, Scotland and western England. This has ensured good soil water reserves that will sustain pasture growth through the start of summer, it says.

Substantial rain since the end of April helped to restore soil water levels, which were starting to raise concerns, especially in the southern UK, the report found.

Yield forecasts of winter crops and spring barley were slightly revised upward, it says.

Moving into May, temperatures followed a more or less common pattern in Ireland and the UK, it says.

In the UK and Ireland, spring barley sowing started by mid-March, it says. This was interrupted by rain at the end of the month, it says.

Weather conditions since then were satisfactory, with only sparse rainfall events which facilitated the completion of sowing activities, it says.