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Cereals are harvested from mid-July to mid-September with the majority completed in August. Weather conditions dictate the pace of harvest and grain is generally harvested too moist to store without further drying. Average grain moistures at harvest are between 17-21%. For long term storage grain should be dried from 14.5%-15%.

Careful preparation of harvesting equipment is essential to attain high work rates through the season. During the harvest clean down of the machine is necessary between different crops and higher value crops (from feed to seed crops). This clean out of the combine is also essential to prevent the spread of weed seeds (canary grass, wild oats, etc.). For more on combine maintenance see Combine cleanup and maintenance (PDF)

Care should be taken to avoid soil compaction from machinery at harvest. This compaction can carry through to subsequent crops. For more see Cereal Harvesting: The Start of Crop Establishment? (PDF)


The decision to remove straw has to be weighed up as to the benefits of straw to the field versus its economic value. The value of straw below does not take into account extra chopping costs.

Crop TypeCrop Yield (t/ha)P (kg/ha)K (kg/ha)Value (€)*
Spring Barley 7.5 3 50 49
Winter Barley 10 4 51 52
Winter Wheat 11 4.4 56 58
Winter Oats 9.0 3.6 87 82
OSR 5.0 2.4 27 28

t/ha ÷ 2.471 = ton/ac; kg/ha x 0.8 = units/ac
*Values rounded to nearest €5/ha P-€2.32/kg and K - €0.83/kg

Straw can be baled in many different sizes, which affects the efficiency of clearance of the straw off the field. Growers should be very conscious of compaction damage to soils when removing straw. See Bale size (PDF) for bale sizes and weights

Straw has an energy value for burning in power stations. See Straw For Energy (PDF) for more details. Further process in of straw into pellets is also possible. For more on Teagasc research into the area see Pellets from straw and energy crops (PDF)