New season barley crops yielding 4t/ac

Early winter barley crops are yielding up to 4t/ac, according to Colm Griffin, a director with Cork-based McDonnell Brothers.

“The new, six-row hybrid varieties are coming through first,” he said.

“And quality is excellent. Moisture levels are in the range 21% to 26% with bushel weights averaging 63 to 64. We would regard a bushel weight of 62 as an average quality figure for barley.”

Griffin said that it is still too early to confirm new season crop prices.

“We need to get a clearer perspective on what yields and grain quality will be like this year. And it will take a week or so for this to happen.”

Teagasc crops and tillage specialist Michael Hennessy is confirming that early barley crops have also been cut in the Clonmel area.

“I expect that the main push behind this year’s winter barley harvest will get underway this coming weekend. Certainly, the early results now coming in are quite positive from both a yield and grain quality perspective.”

Hennessy said that between 8% and 10% of Ireland’s winter barley acreage is now accounted for by hybrid, 6-row varieties.

“This may rise to 20% over the coming years. There is strong evidence to show that hybrid varieties deliver for growers in yield terms. But the jury is still out when it comes to confirming that the extra output more than compensates for the additional input costs associated with the growing of these crops.

“Growers are somewhat concerned that 6-row varieties will not deliver from a quality point of view, particularly during a year when grain fill is poor.”

Hennessy also confirmed that hybrids are more prone to brackling (breaking away of the seed head), than is the case with traditional 2-row barley varieties.

“It is for this reason that we are advising growers to harvest hybrid barleys while still slightly green, in order to maximise yields,” he said.