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Tillage Forum to Set Scene for New Crop Season

Planting next year’s crops has just begun with some oilseed rape crops in the ground. Planting cereals will commence from 20 September onwards. The National Tillage Crops Forum, organised by Teagasc, will take place next Tuesday, 14 September in the Keadeen Hotel, Newbridge, Co Kildare with national and international contributors setting the scene for the coming year. The forum will focus on the potential financial return from crops in 2011, variety selection and weed control.

Good yields from winter barley, this harvest, were in contrast to the variable results from winter wheat. Barry O'Reilly, from the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Food will be presenting at the forum. Commenting in advance of the event, he said; “Results from winter wheat trials showed large yield differences between sites this year, especially between continuous and first wheat sites.” However Barry pointed out that there are a number of new varieties which are showing promise for the coming years.

Selection of crops and projections of profit margins is always difficult especially as markets are still in a very volatile state. “Grain prices are still strengthening at present, but fertilizer prices are nearly 30 per cent higher today than at the start of the year. Therefore growers should carefully assess the potential return from each crop,” commented Shay Phelan, Teagasc adviser, Dublin. Shay also warned growers to continue to select the best sites for cereals this year. “Growers will be tempted to plant every acre with cereals and ignore the potential yield of the site, thus lowering overall yields and margins,” he said.

The National Tillage Forum will include a session on grain marketing with contributions from Jack Watts form the Home Grown Cereals Association (HGCA) in the UK and from John Bergin from R&H Halls. Both speakers will deal with international and national grain markets, including supply/demand and potential trends for the coming year. They will put forward options to deal with the risks associated with volatile grain markets. Following these presentations a panel of guests from the industry will discuss the Irish and international grain market and will answer questions from the floor.

The movement in grain prices in 2010 was very weather dependent and has similarities to the season of 2007, but common sense should prevail about the short to medium term prospects. “Grain markets have improved significantly over the past few months and the outlook appears to be positive,” according to Jim O’Mahony, Teagasc Programme Manager for Tillage Crops. Jim said: “Growers’ incomes have improved this year but this is after a couple of very poor years. Clearing debt is a priority for many growers. For the coming year, do the sums before committing to expensive land rental otherwise financial problems will arise!”