The winter cereal area is not expected to rebound in 2024. The thoughts of the industry a few weeks ago were that the area would recover following a dip in the 2021/2022 season due to poor weather.

The winter barley area fell by approximately 20,000ha last season to 53,000ha. However, wet weather again this planting season means it is unlikely an increase will come, with many expecting levels to remain similar to 2022/2023.

Tillage farmers did make good progress with planting in the past few days, even though rain continues to break working opportunities into small periods of time, making it difficult to get a significant area in the ground.

Farmers in the north east and west of the country managed to stay going for a number of days last week. However, those in the midlands and south of the country were halted until the weekend, with some machinery moving on Saturday.

In the midlands and further north, work was underway on Sunday, Monday and early Tuesday. Land has been slow to dry out and farmers were targeting drier fields to work in. Winter barley and wheat were the priority.

While some areas are reported to have 75% of planned winter cereals in the ground, others have not made such progress. Only 30% of crops are in the ground in areas like east Cork.

This week’s heavy rain has now put a stop to fieldwork for some time, with planting, maize harvesting and potato digging at a standstill until ground conditions improve. Maize crops planted in the open are reported to be hitting over 20t/ac.

The weather over the coming days will remain unsetttled.