Grain farmers wait for dry spells to reap crops

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BROKEN WEATHER has continued to disrupt the harvest and has hit grain farmers hardest as they wait for dry spells to combine their crops.

The moisture content in the cereal crops is high because of frequent rain and this is expected to lead to higher drying costs, but as yet there is no real panic in the sector.

Yields from the main cereal crops remain good to excellent according to Teagasc, the agriculture and food development body.

Winter wheat yields are reported to be over four to five tonnes per acre despite the late harvesting, but winter oat yields, especially in the midlands, are lower, ranging from three to 3½ tonnes per acre.

Spring barley yields are reported to be from 2.5 tonnes per acre up to four tonnes per acre in some of the drier areas in the southeast.

Most tillage farmers are playing a wait-and-see game with the weather, grabbing any opportunity when there has been a dry period after rain to harvest their crop.

The wet weather has created difficulties for farmers attempting to bale straw but is not greatly affecting the harvesting of the second crop of silage, which is in full swing.

While tillage farmers are growing anxious about their harvest fortunes, dairy and beef farmers have welcomed near record levels of grass growth driven by the moist weather.

Already, Irish dairy farmers are seeing the benefit of this and have produced more milk to date than they are allowed under the EU milk quota regime, which could lead to “superlevy” fines next year unless the situation is redressed.

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