Despite poor growing conditions, barley harvest sees average yield

Barley crops in Estonia.
Barley crops in Estonia. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

The first cereal harvests of the year are already complete for many farmers in Estonia, and despite a tough growing season, with drought followed by heavy rainfall, winter barley yields are as normal.

Winter cereals consist of biennial cereal crops sown in the fall.

Harvesting of the winter barley started on Monday at one private sector concern, Estonia. Agronomist Toivo Lauk told ERR that the entire crop has already been sent to the silos.

Lauk said: "We had barley sown in four fields, while the yield varied from 5.5 tonnes to 7.5 tonnes per hectare. I think we will be looking at a good harvest this year."

All the personnel and machines were on Friday similarly in the fields owned by the neighboring Mägede farming association. Harvesting of winter barley there started about ten days ago, with the rainstorms. Collective manager Raido Allsaar said the harvest will be around a third down on previous years, due to relative extremes both of heat and cold this spring and summer.

Asllsaar reported a harvest of about six or seven tonnes at that farm also, however.

Harvesting is on pause at the Estonia farm for a few days now, to give other crops, namely wheat and early summer barley, time to ripen. 

The frequent rainfall has also interfered with the process.

At the same time, is still too early to say what the crop year will be like as a whole.

Toivo Lauk added that: In the spring, we checked that the winter crops had wintered well, and all the indications were good at that time. During the course of sowing the summer crops, we were still able to do so within the right window of time. Now, the drought and the cold weather still affects us, but we are gradually exiting it."

The Mägede collective says it expects to send the combine harvesters out to the wheat and rye fields in a week.

While the grain market prices are based on the stock exchange price levels, meaning farmers do not set prices themselves, Raido Allsaar says the business is certainly worthwhile and there are no difficulties in selling harvests.

He said: "We have large companies here that are very good exporters, while there are also domestic producers like Tartu Mill, there are no concerns here."

"There could be small price rises, which will alleviate the high fertilizer prices seen last year and this year. This is a larger concern," he added.

Earlier this month, the government had declared an emergency situation, a constitutionally-defined term, in respect of the agricultural sector, following the unusually dry spring and early summer.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera', reporter Olev Kenk.

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