Irish cereal crops have the potential to yield very heavily this year with some wheats on target to deliver 6t/ac, according to Goldcrop agronomist John Dunne.

“We have already seen very large yields realised with winter barley,” he said.

“A significant number of crops in the Cork area produced in excess of 4t/ac. And the potential for wheat crops looks equally positive. Unless weather intervenes over the coming days, 5.5t/ac will be achieved in many locations with 6t/ac a distinct possibility in some wheat crop spots.”

Dunne attributes the high yield potential of cereal crops including wheat to the cool weather conditions that have prevailed over recent weeks.

“Wheat crops are running two weeks behind their normal harvest dates,” he said.

“This means they will have an extended ear fill period. And it is this factor that will determine final yields.”

The Carrigtwohill-based agronomist also confirmed that the winter rape harvest will get underway over the coming days.

“Crops are now ripe,” he said.

“But growers are waiting for the good weather that is forecast for next week in order to get on with the harvest. Some early crops have been combined, yielding in the region of 1.8t/ac to 2t/ac. Moisture levels were in the region 12% to 14%. But once fields start to dry out, these figures will fall to around 9%.”

Dunne said that international rape prices have increased significantly since the beginning of the year.

“Growers can expect to receive a price of around €350/t off the combine. And, assuming an average yield of around 2t/ac, this means that most farmers will make money from rape this year.”

The latest EU census figures indicate that Europe’s rape acreage fell in 2015.

“But this trend may well be reversed in 2016, on the back of the decent prices now available,” said Dunne.

“The other issue to be considered is the fact that rape is an excellent break crop in a cereal rotation.”