Glanbia Ireland announced its top grain growers for 2020 this week, with Laois farmer John C Fletcher taking the overall award.

John, from Portarlington, took the Supplier of the Year Award and was also the seed barley category champion.

Commenting on his overall win, John, who farms with his father, commented that rotation is key on his farm.

“We’re always trying to build fertility in the soil, as we’re in continuous tillage," he said.

“2020 wasn’t a great year, as drought got us very early on. Yields were poor and were down about 0.5t/ac on 2019 levels.

“But, thankfully, the quality was good and price was better than previous years.”

Overall, 12 winners were announced from all over the country and across Glanbia’s wide-ranging grain intake.

Intake down for 2020

The company took in 171,260t in 2020, down from 206,040t in 2019, and will also purchase approximately 80,000t of dried grain from the 2020 harvest.

Glanbia Ireland chair John Murphy congratulated the growers and stated: “Grain farmers across Ireland continue to produce extremely high-quality grains, albeit in very challenging weather conditions over the past number of years.

“2020 was no different, with 60% greater than average rainfall and high winds wreaking havoc in the south and southeast, particularly in August.

“Despite all of this, our award winners and their fellow growers excelled and have raised the bar even further this year.”

Expanding product range

In good news for the tillage sector, Glanbia’s gluten-free oats area doubled in 2020 and, last month, the company released an oat flour for the food ingredients market.

Head of strategic alliances at Glanbia Ireland Tom Finlay commented: “We are expanding our value chain to include a range of oat flour which is used in a number of nutritious applications.

“We will bring a range of quinoa offerings to market and these will include flakes and flour. We’ve also introduced a range of organic oatmeal this year.”

Glanbia grain awards category winners 2020

  • Winter feed barley (Cassia) - Richard Thomson-Moore, Barne Estate, Clonmel, Co Tipperary.
  • Malting barley - Diarmuid MacAmhlaoibh, Ballyarra, Castlelyons, Co Cork.
  • Green feed barley - Martin Hayden, Coolroe, Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny.
  • Dried feed barley - Michael Cloney, Curracloe, Co Wexford.
  • Seed barley - John C Fletcher, Ballykillane, Portarlington, Co Laois.
  • Green feed wheat - Patrick McEvoy, Kilberry, Athy, Co Kildare.
  • Dried feed wheat - Philip Doyle, Lullymore Farm, Rathangan, Co Kildare
  • Seed wheat - The Brennan Family, Chapel Avenue Farm, Barrowhouse, Athy, Co Kildare.
  • Food Grade Oats - John Leahy, The Heath Farm, Athy, Co Kildare.
  • Green feed oats - Tom McKeown, Knock, Castletown, Navan, Co Meath.
  • Green feed beans - Philip Murphy, Ballykerogue, Campile, Co Wexford.
  • Green oilseed rape - Ivan Curran, Broadleas Farm, Broadleas, Stamullen, Co Meath.