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Winter Cereals

Winter cereals is the term used to describe autumn drilled wheat, barley and oats. The area of winter cereals in Ireland was traditionally around 100,000 ha but has increased to around 150,000 ha in recent years, mainly due to an increase in the area of winter barley. Winter wheat and barley dominate the area with around 70,000 ha each, whereas only 10,000 ha of winter oats are drilled each year. For detailed sown areas of each crop grown log on to the cso website at: https://www.cso.ie/en/statistics/agriculture/areayieldandproductionofcrops/

About Winter Cereals

In each crop category (wheat, barley and oats) there are a number of different varieties sown each year. Growers primarily drill varieties which feature on the Department of Agriculture National Recommended Lists for each crop. Yield increases from plant breeding, in the order of 1% per year, which have increased yield of Irish crops to the highest in the world. The current recommended lists are available on the Department of Agriculture website at; https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/publications/

BYVD Control in Winter Cereals

Aphids are the most serious pests of crops in Ireland and affect crops in two ways by feeding on the grain and by vectoring a virus called BYDV (Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus). Learn how to control BYDV and Aphids in this short video clip.

Winter Cereals: Yields

Winter cereals generally have higher yields than spring cereal crops however they are more expensive to grow. Therefore achieving good yields is important for profitability.

Winter Wheat



National Yield(t/ha)

7.2 9.3 10.2 10.7 9.7  10.3 8.91

National Area (ha)

83,300 45,400 65,100 55,300 59,700 60,300 53,900

Winter Wheat Profit Monitor Analysis 2017 (pdf)

Teagasc have published a comprehensive to growing Winter Wheat which collates research and best practice for obtaining high yields. The guide combines crop production research focusing on understanding how winter wheat yields are formed and best practice how to achieve this. The Winter Wheat Guide (PDF)

Winter Barley




National Yield (t/ha)

9.5 9.3 10.2 8.6 9.10 8.8

National Area(ha)

36,000 60,100 69,800 73,800 63,300 57,200

Winter Oats



National Yield (t/ha)

8.1 8.7 9.2 8.3 8.9 7.8

National Area(ha)

5,400 10,100 11,400 12,900 14,000 10,100

Read also: Oats: Food and Crop product potential (pdf)

Data taken from www.cso.ie

Generally winter cereals are sown from mid- September to mid November.  Due to restricted growth after mid November, little or no cereals are sown after this date until mid to late January.

The market outlet for winter wheat and winter barley is almost all for animal feed (pigs, poultry, dairy and cattle ration, etc.) with a proportion of winter oats going for milling (used to make porridge).