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Teagasc Tillage Forum Reflects on Difficult Grain Harvest

2012 will be remembered for one of the worst summers in the last 40 years by tillage farmers. The cold, wet and dull conditions have resulted in very poor cereal crop yields nationwide. At the Teagasc National Tillage Forum in Newbridge today, Wednesday 12 September, the outcome of this year’s harvest to date and the outlook for the year ahead was discussed. Planning by growers for sowing the winter cereal crops has already begun.

Winter Wheat yields are the hardest hit, with average yields 3.5 to 4.0 tons per hectare lower than last year, with some farmers achieving 5 to 7.5 tonnes per hectare less than last year. Spring Barley yields are to 2 to 3 t/ha lower than last year. Quality issues such as low hectolitre weights has forced merchants to introduce price reductions on grain and many will struggle to make the required quality parameters demanded by the industry. Negotiations are ongoing with grain assemblers and end users, to work out a formula to use for grain forward sold before the harvest.

Martin Bourke, Teagasc tillage adviser from Wicklow, told the forum that planning was the key to ensuring profitability. He said "Winter wheat growers who rented land and sold grain before harvest are particularly hard hit this year and stand to lose significant amounts of money." He pointed out the role of planning crop rotations and how recording this year’s information can help to improve next years margins. Teagasc eProfit Monitor results show the cost of production for wheat in 2012 was €126/t, and Martin estimates the costs will be at least €160/t due to poor yields and increased costs.

James Nolan from R&H Hall gave the forum an insight into global market supply and its potential impact. "Lower global grain production combined with high demand is driving the sentiment and expectations of fund managers and prices" said James. He is predicting prices up to year end will be relatively stable due to demand, but after that it is more uncertain.

Gordon Rennick from Pesticide Control Service in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine outlined the latest pesticide legislation that the industry will have to comply with. Everyone from the store manager, to the grower, to advisers will have to upskill and continue to update themselves in order to stay on top of the new developments in the agrochemical sector. Documentation of Integrated Pest Management by growers will also have to be completed in each crop.