Sowings Ahead Of Schedule As Tillage Farmers Make Most Of Good Conditions

IFA National Grain Chairman Noel Delany has said this has been one of the
earliest planting seasons in recent years due to excellent conditions over
the last month. He estimates that 90% of the spring crops are planted and
the remainder will be finished in the next week.

Noel Delany said, “Forward selling is becoming more and more of a feature
of the tillage business, with up to 40% of crops locked into a fixed price.
The system is working well for tillage farmers who can look ahead with a
greater degree of certainty. It also allows them to arrange their credit on
a much sounder footing.”

The IFA Grain Chairman encouraged all farmers to follow the markets closely
and base their decisions on the evolving situation. “The ability to lock in
a price at a particular time gives far greater control to farmers as they
can assess what margin is available to them by comparing the cost of their
inputs against the price on offer.”

Mr Delany said the rising cost of inputs is a major concern for tillage
farmers. “Fuel costs have doubled in the last three years, from 45 cent per
litre in 2009 to over 90 cent per litre today. This is putting major
financial pressure on grain farmers, and if we get a wet harvest, it will
cost €15/tonne for oil alone. Also, oil companies want payment within 14
days. Fertiliser is up from €70 to €100 per tonne in the last year, which
means margins are eroding rapidly.”

He said the planting of Spring barley is up by 25-30,000 hectares, which is
an increase of 15% on last year. Spring wheat is similar to last year, at
circa 15,000 ha, while Winter barley is up 15% to 30,000 ha. Winter wheat
sowings have increased by around 10% to over 80,000 ha. Winter oats at
8,000 ha is static. Oilseed rape sowings are up 50% from 8,000 to 12,000
ha. The crop is two to three weeks ahead because of the mild winter. There
is no figure for Spring oats, but all the seed available is sold.

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