A thought provoking article from Farmers Guardian on looking at spring crops potential focusing on barley, beans, oats and wheat.

2017 saw a jump of 9% in spring barley acreages according to the AHDB planting and variety survey. Unfortunately growers did not land up seeing the true potential of this crop. Some highlighted issues were on germination and protein and in some cases set a price differential of £25-£30 per tonne. With this result in mind, and with what can only be called an open autumn just passed, how will the 2018 spring barley planting look? Only time will tell.

To add insult to injury spring barley wasn’t alone in the spring crops debate. Growers saw their harvest of spring bean crops delayed, with some extending into the back end of September. This saw a drop in quality, mostly in appearance but also with bruchid presence. With the demand still being there, albeit challenged through currency, hopefully this won’t deter 2018 growers. There has been chatter on the impact of pesticide use being banned on EFAs and how this will affect growers attitudes. However, there is the belief that growers place pulses where they fit in the rotation and therefore this shouldn’t really be an issue.

Oats have seen a gain in popularity in recent times when looking to spring crops as an option. This in a market that has buoyed between being a net exporter and a net importer. This can be mostly attributed to variability seen in the UK crop. As such if we are to maintain our position stability in grain quality will be key moving forward. With the spring oat planting still in the air, it would be difficult to predict what proportion of winter to spring cropping there will be in this next season. One thing for growers to remember is that oats do offer a break opportunity and have been shown to be very competitive against the dreaded blackgrass. However, as always the caveat is premiums and securing markets. Feed oats don’t offer much value to the grower over its cultural use and break opportunity. So growers should try to look towards growing on a milling contract for milling specification. If no husked oat contracts are available naked oats are an opportunity with good premiums and contract security being offered.

Although spring wheat has been used for blackgrass control by some, this can be tricky at the best of times. Seed rates, sowing times and ground consolidation being pivotal when aiming to achieve this. That being said there are some good varieties out there with some newer ones offering great yields. So for those growers that aren’t looking for group 1 specification but rather a more robust higher yielding type, these newer lines might be for you.

So with growers considering spring crops there are plenty of options out there. With uncertain times ahead, who can say where we will land up. The most anyone can do is look to securing there on farm margin, and diversifying the land is definitely an option look positively on.

For the full Farmers Guardian article please read here.