The estimated production of cereals in Ireland for 2020 has dropped by 20% on last year, according to Teagasc’s harvest report.
Total cereal production is estimated at 1.9m tonnes this year, a decrease of 487,000t on 2019.
Overall cereal crop yields are estimated to have declined by 0.5t per hectare (t/ha) to approximately 1.5t/ha, depending on the crop.
Grain quality is reported as good, despite broken weather during harvesting in August.
The reduced yields have been attributed to a combination of poor planting conditions in autumn 2019, a wet winter, followed by a drought in April and May, especially in the midlands and northeast, and finally poor weather during the harvest.
Straw volumes have also been affected, with Teagasc estimating that quantities are 30% below normal.
The overall cereal area in 2020 was similar to 2019, based on Department of Agriculture figures. However, there was a 40% decline in winter cereal crops, with the deficit made up by spring plantings.
Spring barley increased from 94,000ha in 2019 to 141,000ha in 2020. The area of spring oats was up 136% and spring wheat saw a 202% increase to help offset the decline in winter plantings.
The report’s assessment of harvest 2020 says that while the early part progressed relatively well, broken weather in August, including damaging winds from storm Ellen and damaging rain from storm Francis, delayed it by two weeks. It also resulted in significant grain losses in some crops.
It is noted that the conditions for harvesting malting barley were not favourable and, as a result, a smaller tonnage was assembled this year.
Looking forward, the report says that current estimates indicate the winter cereal area for 2020/2021 is similar to 2018/2019. Crops have generally been planted in good conditions and there are relatively few establishment problems reported.