Modest yield outlook for Irish crops, but pest and disease pressures remain high

Crop development and biomass accumulation are mainly above average in Ireland and the UK, but pest and disease pressures remain high, according to the latest MARS crop monitoring report.

Yield forecasts remain close to or slightly above the five-year average, the MARS report found.

It found that temperatures were near-average in the UK and Ireland, with above-average values predominating in the first half of June (especially in the western UK and Ireland), and below-average values in the first half of July; however, there were no large extremes.

Temperatures climbed during the last days of the analysis period (up to July 22), towards the low 30s the southern UK. Rainfall was above average, it found.

According to the MARS report, in parts of the UK and Ireland, rainfall was evenly distributed and highly frequent in the last three weeks of June, even in the cropland areas of southern and eastern Ireland, where the total amount of rainfall was close to the average.

As a consequence of this rainfall, radiation levels were below average, especially in the south- and central eastern UK, which had also experienced low radiation levels due to densely overcast weather conditions at the end of May.

Meanwhile, model indicators continue to show average to above average development and biomass accumulation of winter crops, and ample water supply.

However, it found that below average radiation and high humidity may have affected grain filling and ripening, and have led to persistently high pest and disease pressure, with negative effects on yields and grain quality.

These factors introduce a high margin of uncertainty into the MARS yield forecasts, which remain close to or slightly above the five year average, and close to those of the previous bulletin.

The harvesting of rapeseed and winter barley has started with mixed results, confirming the modest overall outlook, it found.

At EU-level, it said that conditions have been particularly favourable for winter crops in Bulgaria and Romania, where the yield forecast for winter cereals is at a record high.

Yield expectations are also highly positive in the Iberian Peninsula and Hungary. Yield forecasts in the other EU Member States are closer to the five-year average, except in Poland, Greece and Cyprus, where the forecast for winter cereals is below average.

The forecast for winter cereals remains well above the five-year average but below last year’s levels, the MARS report found.

The outlook for maize is also positive, but it said that  weather conditions in the coming weeks will determine the final yields.