Less than 20% of spring barley in the ground as weather halts sowing

Less than 20% of the national spring barley crop has been planted, according to Tim O’Donovan, who said that February rainfall has impacted hugely on sowing levels.

The Teagasc Tillage Specialist said that while some small pockets of spring barley have seen plantings of near 50%, the national figure for spring barley sowings is less than 20%.

“High water tables in February are taking a while to dry out and while March was a dry month, most fields were still only seeing water soaking away during the month.

“Up to Easter, in most parts of the country, land was still drying off and in some parts of the country no spring barely has been sown yet.”

Spring barley yields, he said, start to deteriorate when planting takes place after the middle of April, whereas other spring-sown crops’ yields are hit if they are planted after April 1.

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“There is no spell of fine weather forecast until Monday and there is no long-range forecast is saying that a decent spell is on the way.”

He said that farmers need to sit down and look at their own figures around whether it is viable for them to plant as each individual case is different.

“The biggest issue with spring corn for farmers is coping with the three-crop rule (where farmers with more than 30ha of arable land must grow at least three crops under greening measures).”

He also said that coupled with weather conditions and the low world grain prices, tillage farmers are operating in a low-profit margin industry at the moment.

Teagasc, he said, has a number of online tools to help farmers calculate costs, margins and returns which he said should be used. He also said that Teagasc spring crop farm walks will take place from April 18 where farmers can receive up-to-date advice.