Take-all has had a major impact on both winter wheat and barley yields this year, according to Co. Down cereal grower, Graham Furey.

And the dry weather that was a feature of June and July only served to exacerbate the problem.

“Take-all affects the roots of cereal crops, making water uptake poor enough at the best of times,” explained Furey, who grows a mix of winter barley, wheat, oats and oilseed rape.

“So the dry weather in the weeks leading up to harvest magnified this issue. The end result was a fall off in yields.”

He said the disease had impacted wheat and barley crops in equal measure.

One upside to the continuing dry weather has been growers’ ability to get on with the 2022 harvest without interruption.

“There are no spring crops in the rotation at the present time,” said Furey.

“As a result, we finished combing a week ago. Yields across all the crops were about average.”

Where winter barley is concerned, an insecticide was applied to all crops last autumn, as a means of keeping Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV) at bay.

“Normally, I wouldn’t go down this road for environmental reasons,” said Furey.

“But the weather after planting last year was extremely mild and there had been reports of growers in the Co. Down area confirming large numbers of aphids in their fields.

“I used an insecticide on the barley, very much as an insurance policy. With hindsight, it was the right decision to take.”

A proportion of the 2022 cereal crop will be sold over the coming weeks with the remainder kept in store.

“Prices are good at the present time. But there is every likelihood of the markets strengthening further over the coming months,” said Furey

“So it makes sense to put a proportion of the crop into store at this stage.”

He said he does not intend expanding his oilseed rape acreage for the 2022-2023 season.

“It can be a difficult enough crop to grow , given our own particular circumstances,” he commented.

“But I know a number of growers who are looking to experiment with rape for the coming season.

“Some have been in contact with me, seeking advice on how best to get crops established.”

Overall, it has been a good year for cereal production, he said, adding: “And there is a strong likelihood that the cropping area in Northern Ireland may now start to expand.”