Tillage sector under ‘huge’ pressure
TILLAGE farmers have been urged to take care of their physical and mental health as they struggle to get the last of the cereals harvested and crops such as oilseed rape sown.
The poor weather of the last week has turned the end of the harvest into a salvage operation.
“There is huge pressure on lads at the moment, trying to get the last of the crops cut, straw saved and oilseed rape sown,” the IFA’s Liam Dunne explained.
“I have heard of farmers cutting into the night and then jumping on a seeder to get crops in before the rain. It’s that sort of pressure that leads to accidents.”
Between 20pc and 25pc of the harvest has still to be completed in Offaly, Westmeath, North Tipperary, Galway and Donegal.
In Meath, ground conditions have deteriorated over the last fortnight and a lot of spring barley has yet to be harvested.
Growers in the south and east of the country estimate that between 5pc and 10pc of the harvest remains to be cut.
One Cork grower said little of the bean harvest had been done in the county and plantings of oilseed rape had been severely disrupted by the heavy rains.
A lot of straw has still to be saved and cereal growers are worried that they may struggle to get it baled unless the weather improves. Demand for straw has increased over the last few weeks as the bad weather took hold.
Meanwhile, currency will be the single biggest impact on grain prices for 2017-18, according to a leading grain trader.
James Nolan of Halls told tillage farmers at the Teagasc National Crops Forum in Newbridge that the strengthening of the euro against the dollar and sterling means grain imports into the EU will be cheaper.
“Currency is the single biggest impact on European prices this year. European farmers benefited from weakening euro last year but the euro’s strength is having an impact on our ability to sell our crop,” Mr Hall said.
Increasing supply from export regions such as Brazil and Argentina has also put downward pressure on prices.
However, Mr Nolan claimed it was “not all doom and gloom” for Irish tillage farmers and that there was some cause for “cautious optimism”. Rising oil prices in Russia will increase their currency and therefore lessen their selling power which would also benefit Europe.