2021 Harvest estimated at 2.32 million tonnes
The 2021 harvest report published by Teagasc estimates that the production of cereals was 2.32 million tonnes in 2021. This represents an increase of 407,000 tonnes (21%) from harvest 2020.
Total cereal area increased by 3.1% on 2020. There was a major shift back to winter cereals due to favourable sowing condition in autumn 2020 where the area of winter wheat, winter barley and winter oats increased by 58%, 31% and 67% respectively. Consequently the area of spring barley decreased by 18% to 116,238 hectares in 2021.
Yields in all cereal crops were well above the five-year average, with winter oats recording a record average yield of 9.32t/ha. Winter wheat, spring barley, winter barley, were all close to, but just below, the record yields recorded for these crops in previous years. The 2021 growing season was favourable for cereals. Good sowing conditions in autumn 2020 and in late March and early April resulted in good establishment and disease was well controlled. Grain quality was good for the most part and moisture contents were below 20% for most crops. Harvest losses were minimal due to good weather in August/September and grain moisture was below average.
Straw quantities were good in all cereals and dry harvest weather allowed farmers to bale or incorporate straw without much difficulty. The new Straw Incorporation Measure (SIM) was introduced this year to support Irish tillage farmers who decided to chop and incorporate straw into the soil after harvest. Demand and supply were well matched and the Straw Incorporation Measure does not appear to have created any deficit in the market in 2021.
The estimated winter cereal area for the 2021/22 growing season is broadly similar to the previous season. The area of winter oilseed rape is estimated to have increased significantly to 13,000 hectares. Crop establishment was excellent due to favourable weather conditions for sowing in late September and October and all crops are rated as very good to excellent.
Above average yields and good harvest weather combined with strong grain and straw markets resulted in high financial output from cereals in 2021.
Teagasc Head of Crops Knowledge Transfer, Michael Hennessy commented: “Harvest 2021 was one of the best cereal harvests in recent memory with a combination of good yields and good harvest conditions all combining to make this one of the most profitable seasons ever for tillage farmers.”