GE16 results are mild compared to those for vegetable growers

Farmer writer Julian Hughes reflects on his worst year ever on the farm.

As we near the end of our cropping year, a little like the general election for Fine Gael and Labour, the results are becoming apparent and they don’t make for pretty reading.

I’m not big on sensational statements, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to say this has been the worst year I have ever had at this game as a result of what can only be described as the perfect storm of disastrous weather.

We started our season with an extremely cold May when our main crop was struggling to emerge. This was followed by cutting cold winds in June that hammered the soft new growth while being over-shadowed by a dull dry summer that lacked the sunlight needed to grow decent yields.

Not to be outdone, the winter decided to put on a virtuoso performance in miserable weather. It has just seemed to rain constantly, making our digging very difficult and expensive but also hammering our yield as we had a very high grade off due to harvest bruising.

Changes to harvest outfit

Looking back, we were very lucky we made some changes to our harvest outfit, putting more machines on low ground pressure tyres and taking trailers off the field.

All in all, I won’t look back on 2015 with fond memories but we got there in the end, albeit with yields that were 30{b28040870e2dde01f25bc5b483275391226143b34751c4bb8f1feeecaec925a1} down across the board while harvest costs were about 40{b28040870e2dde01f25bc5b483275391226143b34751c4bb8f1feeecaec925a1} increased. All part of the game, sadly.

Talk of €110/t for barley doesn’t really excite while farmers are readily paying €200+/acre for land

Planning is complete for the 2016/17 season ahead with a wave of optimism for the year ahead. Machines are serviced and ready to go for spring planting and we are waiting on some weather to let them loose. That’s the beauty of farming, you get to wipe the slate clean and have another crack.


On the cereals front, things are not looking as optimistic. We will have a nice few acres, more than we’ve had for a while, but talk of €110/t for barley doesn’t really excite while farmers are readily paying €200+/acre for land.

Looking at the bigger picture, grain cycles roll a lot slower than most, but I’d be confident €150+ green barley isn’t too far away. The world can’t support long-term low grain prices at the current levels but it takes time for the land that was converted to cereals during the spike a few years ago to go back to cattle or fallow land.

It was only a short few years ago that I sold a plough to an eager new entrant to the cereals game who was ploughing up all his grass to ride the wave of enthusiasm in cereals. Does that sound familiar? Forgot to mention, he was a dairy farmer.

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