Wet weather delayed harvesting last week, but combines were rolling again by the weekend when the main spring barley harvest began.

Harvesting conditions were good for the most part, but rain in some parts on Monday evening and Tuesday halted work. Good drying conditions allowed for a relatively quick re-start and the majority will be happy with harvest conditions. However, yield is something that farmers aren’t happy about.

While initial reports varied between 2t/c and 2.5t/ac for spring barley, lower yield has dropped as crops sown in mid-April and early May went below 2t/ac. As the week progressed, yields down to 1.5t/ac were reported to AgriLand.

Spring barley

Yields are variable, with a large amount of crops running between 1.5t/ac and 2.5t/ac. The majority of the higher yields are coming from Munster, but yields below 2t are being reported across the country. There are also reports of some 3t/ac crops, again mostly in the Munster region.

Moisture contents are below 20% in the majority of cases, with many farmers cutting at ideal moisture contents of 16-17%.

Initially, the lower protein crops were coming from the higher-yielding fields. However, crops which were sown in May – which received little if any rain during the drought – are now being cut and proteins appear to be low in some of these crops. This may be due to a lack of nitrogen uptake in the dry weather.

Proteins are coming in above 12% in many cases – failing to meet malting specifications at these levels. Many farmers are taking advantage of high protein contents with farm-to-farm trading.

KPH levels are also variable – running between 60 and 70. Screenings are a problem, as farmers struggle to thresh crops.

Straw yields are varying across the country; some farmers have reported up to nine bales per acre (4X4) from spring barley crops, while more have seen straw yields of just five bales per acre and below.

Winter wheat

Winter wheat crops are coming in between 3t/ac and 4t/ac in most cases; the majority are running at the lower end of the scale and a few exceptions are exceeding the 4t/ac mark.

It should also be noted that these crops are at low moisture contents. Straw yield isn’t far away from normal and it is all in demand.