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Good yields but fertiliser price threatens margin for tillage farmers for Harvest 2023, says IFA national grain chairman

Kieran McEvoy Laois IFA

IFA national Grain Chairman Kieran McEvoy, from Emo, has said winter barley, winter oats and winter rape are now all completed – but concerns remain over fertiliser costs for 2023.

“A warm, dry month of July ensured grain moistures were much lower than normal and straw has been easier to bale,” said Kieran McEvoy in a statement from the IFA.

“After a mixed winter barley harvest, yields have improved for other crops. Winter oilseed rape is yielding 15% better than is perhaps typical. This is positive news given the 4,500 extra hectares planted last autumn,” he said.

The IFA Grain Chairman said farmers are moving to the harvesting of spring crops this week.

Approximately 35% of the national area has now been harvested, with farmers just starting into winter wheat and spring barley. They make up 60% of the total cropped area.

The spell of good weather will likely see spring barley being cut more widely in south Leinster. The wheat harvest will also commence in the mid-eastern counties. It is too early for an accurate assessment on winter wheat and spring barley yields.

“Progress is greater in the south and south east, which is to be expected with the harvest of spring barley underway in the last few days,” he added.

The Straw Incorporation Measure scheme has seen very good uptake, with 52,000 hectares being chopped. He said some farmers are chopping additional straw outside of the scheme this year to reduce offtake of P and K nutrients and lower fertiliser requirements.

“Prices remain volatile and especially with news of grain vessels leaving Ukraine last week.

“They have fallen significantly throughout the summer, but current prices still remain at historically high levels,” he said.

McEvoy said fertiliser prices are a major concern for tillage farmers.

“Satisfactory yields and higher prices have enabled farmers to weather the input cost surge in 2022.

“However, at present 2023 futures prices are €40-50/t lower than 2022 and fertiliser prices on the whole will be higher for next season.

“Any further falls in world grain markets after planting this autumn will leave margins very tight or non-existent,” he said.

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