Ireland’s winter barley acreage looks set to increase again in 2015, according to Teagasc crop agronomist John Pettit.

“Malting barley growers had to sow winter crops last year for the first time last year, simply to keep themselves compliant from a Greening perspective, he said.

“And this trend is like to continue in the 2015/16 growing season. As a consequence, the tonnages  of feed barley available in Ireland this year has increased.

“This is a direct consequence of winter barley crops being higher yielding than their spring counterparts. This trend has also been replicated throughout the rest of the EU.”

Pettit confirmed that six-row hybrid winter barley varieties are becoming more popular with Irish grain growers.

“They certainly out yield the more traditional two row varieties,” he said.

“But quality, up to a point, is compromised. We know from this year’s harvest that bushel weights for two row winter barleys were in the range 67 to 70: the comparable values for six rows were between 64 and 66.

“And these quality differences are significant.”

Pettit said that KWS Tower is a new winter barley variety worth looking out for this season.

“Small acreages were sown out last autumn. But the variety will be much more widely available this autumn.

“We know that it is potentially higher yielding than Cassia. In addition, it has a higher disease resistance profile and is more resistant to lodging, again when compared with Cassia. Tower has genuine potential for the future.”

Pettit confirmed that ploughing is continuing apace in many parts of the country.

“But land is turning over quite wet and heavy in the south east,” he said.

“This is a consequence of the recent heavy rains. It will require a couple of dry days before growers can get on with additional field work.”