Barley yields may well be down by up to a quarter of a tonne per acre this year, according to Teagasc tillage specialist Michael Hennessy.
“The plant numbers just aren’t there in winter barley crops and heads are also smaller,” he said.
Hennessy says it’s unlikely that many growers will be harvesting crops that exceed 4t/ac in 2015.
Where spring barley is concerned the issue is the damage done to headlands at sowing time. One positive factor in the barley equation is the lack of disease within crops, despite the very wet and cool conditions that have characterised the growing season up to this point.
Hennessy also confirmed that it will be at least four weeks before the first of this year’s winter barley crops are ready for the combine, notwithstanding the good weather that is forecast for the next few days.
“The biggest factor that will impact on barley margins will be the current €17/t price differential that currently exists with wheat. And I do not see barley returns improving, in relative terms, between now and harvest,” he said.
In contrast to barley, Hennessy believes that wheat yields will not disappoint in 2015.
“The potential for higher levels of ear fill is just so much greater with wheat,” he said.
“The longer crops can stay green: the better the prospect for higher yields.”
Hennessy reports that both rape and oat crops are looking well at the present time.
“Leaf spot has been less of a problem in rape this year, compared with 2014,” he said.
“One slight area of concern is the extended flowering period that has been very apparent over recent weeks. In some cases this would have been ten days longer than normal. The downside to this is the development of differing pod sizes within individual plants.”