Winter barley area could be back by as much as 30% in south Cork, according to Dairygold’s Liam Leahy, and the trend is expected to continue throughout the country, although not to the same extent.

After what was a great harvest in 2022, one crop which did not perform for some farmers was winter barley.

Since its harvest, many farmers have been considering reducing winter barley area as some growers achieved similar yields with spring barley this year, but with less inputs of fertiliser and plant protection products and therefore less cost.

On this week’s Irish Farmers Journal Tillage Podcast, Liam Leahy, tillage manager at Dairygold, stated: “I can see south Cork going back 25-30% in winter barley area and at much later planting.

“As of today (5 October), we have practically no winter barley set in Cork. I’d hate to tell you how much was set this time last year and maybe that’s where the problem lies,” he added.

Liam thinks take-all was one of the main factors affecting winter barley yield in the region this year, while virus hit crops along the coast from Ardmore to Kinsale badly. Early planting may have put crops at higher risks of disease and virus.

Liam noted that there was increased interest in rye this season and while rye and oilseed rape may replace some winter barley area, this will be relatively small.

He commented that while farmers need to make decisions based on what crop will turn the best profit, there is a problem looming for the industry if the lack of appetite for winter barley area continues. He added that intakes were stretched this harvest as grain was delivered in a short space of time this season.

“If that’s not going to be planted in the winter, it’s going to be planted in the spring and there’s a logistical problem looming in the future there if you’re going to end up with an increase in oilseed rape, rye, beans and then a lot of extra spring barley."

Winter barley area

To put some perspective on winter barley area, it stood at 73,605ha in 2022, up almost 6,300ha on 2021. The area stood at 67,386ha in 2021, 51,299ha in 2020 and 82,457ha in 2019.

You can listen to the full podcast at this link.