Winter barley crops in the Wexford area are on target to yield an average of 4 tonnes per acre (10 tonnes per hectare) over the coming weeks.

Teagasc tillage advisor Ciaran Hickey has told Agriland that crops are looking exceptionally well at the present time. “Disease levels have been extremely low and plants are remaining very green. This means that crops are well placed to achieve excellent levels of grain fill in the run up to harvest.”

Ciaran is projecting that the first of this year’s winter barley crops will be harvested between July 15 and 20. “All of this is weather dependent,” he added.

“My concern about the very hot conditions that are currently prevailing is that crops will ripen too early. Yes we need dry conditions, but I would prefer temperatures to be in the region of 17 degrees Celcius, not 27 degrees.

“The soil conditions in the Co. Wexford area are particularly suited to the growing of high-quality cereal crops. But the trick is to keep the plants growing for as long as possible. Back in 2011, we had a dry, overcast summer with relatively cool temperatures. As a result, growers managed to achieve yields of four tonnes per acre from spring barley crops.

This is why I feel that winter barley crops should come in at four tonnes plus per acre this year. Plant numbers are excellent and based on excellent growing conditions that we have enjoyed so far this year, there is every reason to believe that cereal growers can look forward to an excellent harvest in 2014.”

The Teagasc representative went on to point out that the combines should start rolling for the first time in and around the first week of July, as the first of this year’s rape crops reach full maturity.

“The acreage of rape grown in the Wexford area is well down this year. Crops suffered from pigeon damage earlier in the spring, so it will be interesting to see how yields hold up.”