Late Spring leads to a lower acreage with another straw shortage to follow

Straw: Already booked out with most grain farmers.
Straw: Already booked out with most grain farmers.

MANY corn growers across Galway have already been ‘booked out’ in terms of orders for straw by livestock farmers as the shortages of the past Winter and Spring look set to have a knock-on impact for the coming year.

Straw was ‘hard got’ since last harvest but now Teagasc are estimating that the volume of straw will be even less this harvest that it was in 2017, due to the lower acreages sown and a later sowing date.

“Livestock farmers should talk to their straw supplier early this year as spot buying could be very difficult in 2018,” Michael Hennessy, Head of Crops Knowledge Transfer in Teagasc said last week.

Galway IFA Grain Representative, John Daly, told the Farming Tribune, that he – like a lot of other grain farmers – already had orders in for all the straw they would have for this harvest.

“The corn acreages are well down on last year, while on top of that, the sowing season has been a month to six weeks behind schedule due to the weather and ground conditions,” said John Daly.

Teagasc have also advised that later sown crops have a lower root mass, resulting in the plant being less resilient to stress such as hot weather, or drought, during the rapid growth and grain filling phase.

The farm advisory body also point out that due to the poor weather since late Summer, 2017, Spring crops of corn have been planted about one to two months behind schedule.

“Even the longest serving tillage farmers admit to not experiencing such a late and difficult planting season in their lifetimes,” according to Ciaran Collins, Tillage Specialist with Teagasc.

He added that Teagasc were working hard with farmers and the industry – ‘developing agronomic strategies’ – to try and maximise the crop potential of the late sown corn crops.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.