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Drought Impact on Crops 

The effect of the current drought on winter and spring crops, mostly on the eastern side of the country, is likely to similar to that experienced in 2018.  Crops in the south are more promising but still need more rain to fulfil their potential.  Some of the most severe impacts of the drought include

  • Earlier harvest with reduced yields, higher screenings
  • lower straw yields
  • reduced incomes
  • high value crops are being irrigated where possible, although water shortages are being experienced already in some parts.

Possible crop impacts of the drought.

  • Decisions on fungicides that still have to be applied to crops should be based on the disease pressure and the potential yield. Many crops will not justify spending any more money.
  • Harvest is likely to be 2 weeks earlier than normal in many areas so preparations by farmers and grain intakes would need to take this into account. 
  • Unlike 2018 the drought currently being experienced in Ireland and the UK seems unlikely at this stage to impact greatly on the market prices for grains.
  • National grain yields are going to be significantly reduced with the overall grain harvest below 2 million tonnes.
  • Lower yields and higher screenings may cause some premium crops to struggle to make minimum specifications e.g. malting barley
  • Straw yields are going to be significantly to be lower than 2019 so this may result in increased demand and possibly higher prices.
  • Earlier harvest may allow earlier planting of catch crops, there is likely to be good growth in these crops, where adequate moisture is available, so there is the potential for these to be grazed where this is an option.
  • The earlier harvest should facilitate the planting of winter oilseed rape crops.
  • Incomes from the harvest are likely to be significantly lower in 2020 so many growers may need to talk to their banks regarding credit facilities.