Weather halts harvest but early spring barley yields better than expected

The wet weather over the past couple of days has halted combines progress in fields, but the first harvested spring barley crops are producing better than expected yields.

According to Teagasc’s Michael Hennessy, the first of the harvested spring barley crops are yielding in the region of 3.0-3.5t/ac.

Speaking to Agriland, the Teagasc Tillage Specialist said yields from these crops are quite similar to last year.

However, he said that much of the spring barley harvest is yet to be completed and he is worried about the yield potential of later sown spring barley crops.

Hennessy said that a significant area of spring barley ground was sown late this spring, with some not planted until the final weeks in April.

And, he said that some farmers may be faced with a ‘mixed bag’ when it comes to harvesting these crops.

These potentially lower yields could further compound tillage farmers woes, as winter barley yields were back significantly this year, with some falling by 0.75-1t/ac.

These lower yields combined with reduced grain prices mean that many grain farmers will struggle to make financial sense of cereal farming this year.

According to the IFA President, Joe Healy, political intervention is needed on a number of fronts to support that tillage industry or it will face terminal decline.

Healy said Irish growers are facing a severe income drop of up to €100m this season, despite achieving some of the highest grain yields across the world.

“The combination of low grain prices for the fourth consecutive harvest, converging Greening/Basic Payments, high input and working capital costs, coupled with a 15% – 20% yield reduction on last season will see many growers lose up to €25/t to €30/t even on their own land,” he said.

Weather outlook

Combines have came to a halt on tillage farms across the country in recent days due to changeable weather conditions.

And, the latest weather forecast from Met Eireann suggests that there is no signs of conditions improving in the short term.

There will be a mixture of dry weather, sunny spells and light showers this week, it says, with both drying and spraying conditions remaining poor for the rest of the week.

Met Eireann also says that moderately drained soils could reach saturation and possibly may become waterlogged over the next few days, especially in western areas.