Har­vest is­sues pile pres­sure on tillage farm­ers

Irish Independent - Farming - - FARMING - De­clan O’Brien

SEC­ONDARY growth in spring bar­ley, an in­creased dis­ease threat and poor weather have com­bined to pile pres­sure on em­bat­tled tillage farm­ers.

Heavy rain brought com­bines to a halt across much of the coun­try over the hol­i­day week­end as grow­ers strug­gled to get the last of the win­ter bar­ley har­vested.

With the first of the spring bar­ley com­ing ready to cut this week, there are mount­ing con­cerns that sec­ondary growth in crops is go­ing to make for very dif­fi­cult har­vest­ing con­di­tions.

Although ex­cel­lent spring bar­ley crops are re­ported in Cork, Water­ford and south Tip­per­ary, sec­ondary growth is a ma­jor con­cern in Le­in­ster.

Michael Hen­nessy of Tea­gasc said dif­fi­cul­ties were more preva­lent from Car­low north, but the in­ci­dence var­ied from field to field. He said crops that were badly im­pacted by the drought in April and May have been the worst af­fected by sec­ondary growth.

Malt­ing bar­ley grow­ers will be par­tic­u­larly hard hit by the har­vest dif­fi­cul­ties. Crops that make it past the strin­gent qual­ity spec­i­fi­ca­tions could still strug­gle to make the low pro­tein cut­offs for malt­ing.

Malt­ing bar­ley suit­able for dis­till­ing has a max­i­mum pro­tein limit of 9.3pc, while the limit for brew­ing is 10.8pc. Grow­ers say few crops will reach these thresh­olds, as lev­els in win­ter bar­ley har­vested re­cently were as high as 13pc and 14pc.

To add to grow­ers’ woes, there have been re­ports of an in­creased in­ci­dence of fusar­ium in crops, as well as some sprout­ing.

In ad­di­tion, Boort­malt has still not spec­i­fied what per­cent­age of con­tracted malt­ing bar­ley it will take this year. Grow­ers have ex­pressed con­cerns that Boort­malt could cut in­takes of malt­ing bar­ley from con­tracted grow­ers by as much as 40pc.

On a more pos­i­tive note, the early in­di­ca­tions are that win­ter oilseed rape crops are yield­ing be­tween 1.8t/ac and 2t/ac.

Yields from win­ter oats have been more mixed. Gen­er­ally crops are yield­ing 3.25-3.5t/ac, but some ar­eas have recorded as low as 2.5t/ac.

Maize crops are also said to be look­ing very good, with some eight foot tall al­ready.

Mean­while, farm­ers re­port more en­quiries for straw this week. Prices range from €16 to €20 for 4x4 bales out of the field.

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