Harvest update: Spring barley and winter wheat kick off

Spring barley and winter wheat harvest started early last week in the south and midlands. First indications show a below average yield.

The first of the harvested spring barley crops were sown in early-March, while some mid-April sown crops have also been harvested.

In what has been a difficult year for spring crops, farmers have been prepared for low grain and straw yields. However, high prices for grain and straw will help to compensate for these lower yields.

Early spring barley grain yield reports are between 2.0t/ac and 2.5t/ac at low-moisture contents. However, the poorer spring barley crops are yet to come and – in parts of the south-east – yields are expected to go below 2.0t/ac.

There is a large range in protein contents across the country. The range reported to AgriLand so far was between 9% and 14%. However, the majority seems to be between 9% and 12.5%.

Nitrogen uptake is a minefield and late-sown crops may have a reduced protein content due to the dry weather when nitrogen was being applied.

However, the wet soil at sowing – and heat soon after – may also have resulted in soil nitrogen mineralisation; that’s if there was any soil nitrogen left after the winter’s rain.


Many farmers began cutting winter wheat last week; 3.5t/ac looks to be a standard yield so far.

Winter oilseed rape

The winter oilseed rape harvest is drawing to a close. Yields have been reported to AgriLand of between 1.0t/ac and 2.0t/ac. 1.4t/ac appears to be the run of many crops. Moistures are ideal, ranging between 8% and 10% in most parts.

Winter oats

Winter oats are yielding 3.0t/ac on average, while bushels are at the 55-56 KPH mark.

Total harvest estimate

Teagasc estimates the 2018 harvest will reach 1.74 million tonnes – the lowest harvest since 1994 and the third lowest since 1985.