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. 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.