At least 10 percent of farms still do not have adequate forage supplies for the winter, despite record silage harvests in some areas.
Figures to be presented tomorrow to the National Committee on Forage and Food Security are said to show that some farmers will face significant shortages of forage for the winter, even though there is a 15 to 20 per cent surplus of forage stocks.
It is also understood that the bottlenecks are regional rather than system-based, with supply being tighter in the east of the country.
Forage management options for farmers were discussed at the Grange open house last week and will be discussed at the Ballyhaise event tomorrow.
It’s as early harvested crops show “big swings” in yields, and even though acreage is increasing across the country, Teagasc tillage specialist Shay Phelan sees it looking like a “good year for harvest, but not a record year.” .
“Farmers who prune in about the last week have harvested precocious varieties that are not the highest yielding varieties. And what has been cut is very different,” said Mr. Phelan.
“I hear yields of 2.5-4 t/acre. The first plants harvested appear to be relatively poor, with bushel weights in the mid to high 50’s. What happened there was that some of these plants had a problem, which took away from the good yields.
“But up to and over the weekend yields are improving and I would expect them to reach 3.5-4 t/ac. I hear the odd harvest over 4t, but a lot depends on the soil type and variety. It will be a good year, but not a record year.”
It comes after Agriculture Secretary Charlie McConalogue introduced a tillage support scheme to encourage more farmers to plant forage crops this year.
Teagasc figures show that winter barley was sown 73,600 ha, 6,300 ha more, while spring bean accounted for 9,273 ha, 650 ha more, winter bean 1,003 ha, 400 ha more, spring barley 116,700 ha, 600 ha more, and canola plantings stand at 14,500 ha, 4,500 ha more than last year.
About 28,000 ha of oats were sown, unchanged from last year, while 60,300 ha of winter wheat is 3,500 ha more and 15,600 ha of maize is 1,300 ha more than last year.
The push to plant more forage crops this year stems from the war in Ukraine, with concerns over the availability of grain imports from that country. The war has trapped some 22 million tons of grain in Ukraine, according to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in a growing crisis for the country known as “Europe’s breadbasket” for its exports of wheat, corn and sunflower oil.
Before the Russian invasion in February, Ukraine was able to export six to seven million tons of grain a month, but in June only 2.2 million tons were shipped, according to the Ukrainian Grain Union. It typically sends about 30 percent of its grain to Europe, 30 percent to North Africa, and 40 percent to Asia.
The country hasn’t run out of grain stocks yet, but that could be the case by the end of September when the corn and sunflower seed harvest begins.
Ukraine had a record-breaking grain harvest last year, gathering 107 million tons.
Additional coverage from the Associated Press
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/tillage/good-year-but-not-a-bumper-year-10pc-of-farms-face-winter-fodder-shortage-41831539.html “Good year, but not a record year” – 10% of farms face winter fodder shortages