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Irish grain harvest 2014

The Irish grain harvest in now well underway. Annually over 280,000 hectares of land in Ireland is dedicated to cereal crop production. The main growing regions are located along the eastern coast, the midlands and the north Munster region. However cereals can be grown throughout the island where soil types allow.

Of the total hectares grown, spring sown barley covers 150,000 hectares. This crop is sown between February and April and harvested in August and early September. It will generally yield up to 7 tons/ hectare. It is predominately grown to supply the livestock feeding sector while also grown for the malting industry (brewing the world famous Guinness!). 50,000 hectares of winter barley is grown annually. This practice is carries a higher cost but produces higher yields (9 tons/ hectare).

Nearly all wheat sown in Ireland is also used by the livestock sector. 55,000 hectares of winter wheat is sown, with a usual growing period of October to August. Spring wheat is sown in February/ March and harvested in September. Again winter crops out yield spring crops by up to 3 tons/ hectare.

The remaining cereal area of 14,000 hectares is dedicated to oat production. Oats are grown for both the equine industry and human consumption.

Huge amounts of Irish grown grain is traded between farmers, stored on farms and fed to livestock. As grain is generally harvested at moisture's of 16-20% storage can pose problems. Traditionally grain was dried or aerated in storage to ensure no spoilage. Preservation methods such as acid treatment or fermenting were developed to eliminate the need for drying and costs associated with this practice.

New innovative preservation methods, such as the alkaline treatment process, have become very popular in recent years. While preserving the grain for storage the feeding value of the grain is enhanced through increased protein and pH.

The vast majority of straw produced is also used in the livestock industry, for both feeding and bedding. Some straw is utilised by mushroom growers.This straw is organically composted used to produce a growing medium for mushrooms.

This sector is of vital importance within Irish agriculture. It reduces our dependance on imported livestock feed energy sources and plays an important part in the country's rural economy.

Contact me today if you would like to take a more detailed look at the Irish grain and related agricultural industries

Aonghus Giggins
aonghus@farmtoursireland.com
Phone: 00 353 87 222 78 69