Harvest report 2023

Harvest report 2023

Updated Tuesday 28th November 2023
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  • Total cereal production for harvest 2023 is estimated to be 1.93 million tonnes. This is a decrease of almost 0.5 million tonnes from 2022. This 20% reduction in cereal production is due to a combination of a reduced cereal area in 2023 and below average yields.
  • All cereal crop yields are below their five year average in 2023. 
  • A record area of Winter oilseed rape (20,500ha) and Spring beans (14,900ha) were planted for harvest 2023. 
  • Total cereal area reduced by 6.4% in 2023 when compared with 2022. However when the increased area of winter oilseed rape (+41%) and spring beans (+60%) are factored in the overall tillage area reduced by 2% when compared to 2022. 
  • Unfavourable weather at critical times had a negative effect on cereal production in 2023.
    • Wet weather during the critical planting months of October 2022 and March 2023 resulted in a below average area of winter cereals and delayed planting of spring cereals. 
    • Drought in late May and June was a big factor in the poorer yields in late sown spring crops
    • July was the wettest on record at 12 Met Eireann weather stations which resulted in a very high level of lodging in cereals, particularly in spring barley. 
    • Broken weather in August prolonged harvesting and some spring cereals, mainly spring oats and barley remain unharvested. 
  • There was a significant reduction in the volume of straw produced in 2023. A reduction of 6.4% in the cereal area, lower area of winter cereals, lodging and difficult weather to save straw are the main reasons for the lower volume in 2023.
  • Disease levels in crops were low in 2023 which was helped by dry weather in the second half of May and June. 
  • The cereal area planted this autumn is estimated to be at its lowest level since 2013 due to wet weather this autumn. 
Cereal, winter oilseed rape and spring bean area and yield for 2022 & 2023
Crops 20231
('000) ha
('000) ha

('000) ha

% Diff * 2023**
Av. Yield 
Av. Yield 
2023 $
'000 t
'000 t
'000 t
% Diff
W. Wheat 51.2 60.4 -9.2 -15% 9.48 11.00 461 631 -169.9 -27%
S. Wheat 4.5 6.8 -2.3 -34% 7.57 8.00 32 52 -19.3 -37%
W. Barley 53.2 73.8 -20.6 -28% 8.72 8.70 441 610 -169.3 -28%
S. Barley 131.8 116.5 15.3 13% 6.38 8.10 799 896 -97.1 -11%
W. Oats 10.2 15.2 -5.0 -33% 8.33 9.20 81 133 -52.1 -39%
S. Oats 16.6 13.0 3.6 28% 7.15 7.90 113 98 15.2 16%
Total Cereals 268 286 -18.2 -6.4% - - 1927 2420 -492.5 -20%
WOSR 20.5 14.5 6.0 41% 4.4 5.1 86 70 16 23%
S Beans 14.9 9.3 5.6 60% 5.4 6.1 76 54 22 41%

Preliminary DAFM BPS figures
* CSO 2021 Area, Yield and Production of Crops
** Teagasc estimates
$ Yields x Utilisable Area (Area x 0.95)

Crop reports

Winter wheat

The area of winter wheat in 2023 was 51,200 ha which was a decrease of 9,200 ha on 2022 and 1,300 ha below the 5 year average of 52,500 ha. 

Average yield was 9.5t/ha which is 1.1t/ha below the record yield of 11t/ha in 2022 and 0.5t/ha below the 5 year average of 10t/ha. 

Difficult weather conditions last autumn resulted in a prolonged sowing period and there were some bare patches in fields due to waterlogging. Septoria levels were low at leaf 3 fungicide timing but increased after that.  However dry weather in May and June helped reduce septoria pressure later in the season. There were some pockets of yellow rust but it wan't a major issue overall.

Nitrogen application was delayed in some crops due to wet weather in March and April. 

Wet weather in July caused lodging an a deterioration in grain quality. Average grain moisture at harvest was 19.6% and hectolitre weight was below average at 72.5 kg/hl. 

Spring wheat

The area of spring wheat reduced to 4,500 ha which is 2,000 ha below the 5 year average of 6,500 ha. 35% of the spring wheat area was sown in Cork mainly due reduced sowing in the autumn and sowing opportunities in February. 

The highest yields generally came from early sown crops in the south where individual yields of 10t/ha were recorded however overall average yield for the crop was 7.6t/ha which is 0.4t/ha below the 5 year average. 

Delayed harvesting resulted in some sprouting where average kph was 71 kg/hl and average moisture was recorded at 20.2%

Winter barley

The area of winter barley decreased to 53,200 ha from 73,800 ha in 2022 which is 12,600 ha below the 5 year average. The majority of the crop was sown in late September / early October before soil conditions deteriorated. There was a reluctance to sow earlier in the south following previous experiences with take all and BYDV and as a result much of the crop remained unsown as weather became wetter. 

Crops overwintered well despite the wet weather. Disease levels and BYDV were low in 2023.

There was a large variation in yields across the country. Early sown full crops generally yielded while the poorer yields came from crops with low shoot counts. The best crops yielded in excess of 10.5t/ha while drought and low shoot counts were factors in some of the poorer yielding crops where some yields were below 7.5t/ha were recorded. The overall average yield for the crop was 8.7t/ha which is just slightly below the 5 year average for the crop.

Some crops were harvested in June where moistures were low but the overall moisture was 19% at 63 kg/hl. 

Spring barley

The area of spring barley increased to 131,800ha in 2023. The 15,300ha increase compensated for winter barley that wasn't sown the previous autumn. There were 3 main sowing windows in 2023, late February, Easter (April 7 -10) and the majority was sown in late April. 

Net blotch and rhynchosporium were evident in the variety Planet but overall disease did not significantly impact on yield. Lodging following heavy rain in July and storm Betty in August caused significant losses in 2023. 

There was a large variation in yield with the best yields coming from the south of the country. The best yields were mainly from the early sown crops where yield exceeded 7.5t/ha however this was a low percentage of the overall crop. Yield was much lower in late sown crops where some crops struggled to produce 5t/ha. Drought in late May and June was a big factor in the poorer yields in late sown crops.

The overall average yield ended up at 6.4t/ha which is 1.1t/ha below the 5 year average of 7.5t/ha and 1.7t/ha lower than the record average yield of 8.1t/ha produced in 2022. 

Average malting barley yields were slightly higher due to early planting. Early harvested crops reached the required specifications but very little barley met the specifications past the middle of August. 

Average moisture was 19.8% and specific weight was 61kg/kl for feed barley and 63kg/kl for malting barley. 

A proportion of spring barley remains unharvested due to wet weather with serious financial consequences for the farmers involved. 

Winter oats

The area of winter oats was 5,000ha lower than 2022 at 10,200ha. Similar to winter wheat and barley establishment was patchy due to poor weather at sowing and this had a negative effect on yield. 

There was a large variation in yield with some crops yielding 10t/ha where dry weather in May/June had least effect. The average yield for the crop was 8.3t/ha. The 5 year average yield for winter oats is 8.8t/ha. 

Average moisture was 18.3% and specific weight 53kg/kl. 

Spring oats

The area of spring oats increased to 16,600ha in 2023, an increase of 3,600ha from 2022. Similar to spring barley there was a large variation in yield across the country where early sown crops in the south yielded best. Average yield for the season was 7.2t/ha, 0.3t/ha below the 5 year average of 7.5t/ha.  

Average moisture was 18.3% and specific weight 51.6kg/kl. 

Winter oilseed rape

2023 saw the largest area of winter oilseed rape planted in the country at 20,500ha, surpassing the 17,500ha planted in 2012. An early finish to the harvest in 2022 coupled with a strong market for oilseeds were the driving factors in the increased area.

Most crops overwinter well and pigeon grazing was low. High Green Area Index (GAI) in many crops resulted in savings on nitrogen, however poor ground conditions in April resulted in a delayed application on many farms. Light leaf spot was evident in February but it didn't progress later in the season.  

Average yield was 4.4t/ha which is slightly below the 5 year average of 4.6t/ha. Average recorded moisture was 11.7%. 

Spring beans

An increase in the protein payment and suitable weather in early spring resulted in a record area of spring beans. The overall area of 14,900ha exceeded the previous high of 11,400ha planted in 2017. 

Like all spring crops the earlier planted crops had higher yields and avoided the worse effects of the drought in June. Chocolate spot was the predominant disease but was well controlled and didn't significantly impact on yield. 

Average yield was 5.4t/ha which is well back on the 6.1t/ha produced in 2022 but just on the 5 year average which is 5.5t/ha. Average moisture was 19.8%. 



There was a significant reduction in the volume of straw produced in 2023. A reduction of 6.4% in the cereal area, lower area of winter cereals, lodging and difficult weather to save straw are the main reasons for the lower volume in 2023. Some winter barley straw was on the ground for 5 weeks before it could be baled. 

There was a good uptake of the Straw Incorporation Measure in 2023. Estimates suggest that over 70,000ha of straw was incorporated under the scheme as part of the governments climate action plan. Payment rates of €250/ha for oats, rye, wheat or barley, are available and €150/ha for oil seed rape.

The straw market was strong again this year with 4 X 4 round bales making €17 - 20/bale ex field.

Winter Crop Planting

Winter Crop Planting 

  • The estimated area of cereals planted this autumn is lower than the previous two seasons mainly due to wet weather conditions this October. The largest reduction in area is in the South. Winter barley area has suffered the greatest reduction in area. 
  • The largest percentage reduction is winter oats but it is likely that the area of spring oats will increase to compensate.
  • The cropping estimates in the table below could increase for wheat and oats if suitable weather conditions arise for planting between now and mid February. However there is a significant area to be replanted in some areas due to wet conditions post planting. 
  • Availability of spring cereal seed is a major concern for the tillage industry. 
  • The area of winter oilseed rape is estimated to be similar to 2022 at 15,000 ha which is a significant decrease from 2023 but sowing opportunities were scarce this year and the value of oilseed rape has reduced significantly on 2022. 
  • Crop diversification (2-3 crop rule) is in force for 2024 and there has not been any announcement by DAFM to the contrary. 
Estimated Autumn 2023 Crop Planting for Harvest 2024 ('000 ha) 
  2021 2022 2023 2024
Winter Wheat 56.2 60.4 51.2 45
Winter Barley 67.5 73.8 53.2 35*
Winter Oats 13.9 15.2 10.2 5
Winter Oilseed Rape 10.0 14.5 20.5  15

* Area sown may be lower as a significant quantity remains in merchant/farmer store. 

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