The Irish Seed Trade Association (ISTA) is forecasting that there will be no shortage in spring barley seed produced by Irish growers for the 2025 season.

This was a key message delivered by the organisation’s vice-president, Fred Lynch at the 2024 Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) cereal variety trials open day this week.

The event, which was organised in association with ISTA, was held at Ballyderown Farm, near Kilworth in Co. Cork.

“This projection is based on the state of crops in the fields right now. And, obviously, a lot can happen between now and harvest,” Lynch continued.

“But, assuming, we get decent weather over the coming weeks, there will be enough indigenous supplies of spring barley seed to meet the needs of Irish growers next year.”

Spring barley seed planting was late

Meanwhile DAFM is confirming that Ireland’s tillage area in 2024 is on a par with that of last year. This is despite a significant fall-off in the area of winter cereals sown out last back end.

DAFM’s head of division for crop policy, evaluation and certification, Barry O’Reilly, spoke at the variety trials open day.

He confirmed that the prolonged period of very wet weather since last summer resulted in significant challenges for tillage farmers in getting crops harvested for the 2024 harvest.

“The area of winter cereal crops is approximately 70% of the five-year average, taking account of the period 2019 to 2023,” he said.

“Most planting of spring cereals took place later than normal. This follows what was a very challenging year for growers in 2023.

“Despite these challenges, the overall area of dedicated to crop production has remained relatively stable. This is a testament to the commitment and resilience of growers and of the entire tillage sector,” he added.

Food and feed security

According to O’Reilly, the tillage sector is an important and integral component of Ireland’s agri-food industry.

“A vibrant and sustainable tillage sector is important in increasing food and feed security while also contributing to our climate change objectives,” he continued.

“The Food Vision Tillage Group was established last year to set a roadmap for the sustainable growth and development of the sector to 400,000ha by 2030.

“The recently published final report of the group highlights the critically important role of new and improved crop varieties in increasing the competitiveness of growers.

“It also confirms the important work being carried out by the seed industry and DAFM in ensuring that the highest quality seed of these new and improved varieties are made available to Irish farmers.”