There is on average 10,000 acres of cereals grown in the Isle of Man each year. The largest acreage is in spring barley (6,000 acres). The barley, oats, feed wheat and triticale are generally all grown for livestock feed on the Island although in any one year if there is a surplus it can be exported. Milling wheat is grown by farmers under quota for sale to Laxey Glen Mills Ltd to be made into flour of which the majority is sold to Ramsey Bakery Ltd.
Cereals are generally combined when they are at a moisture level between 15% to 20% although some farmers cut earlier and treat the whole grain with preservatives. Others will cut the cereals much earlier for arable silage or wholecrop.
Cereals suffer as in the UK from many crop diseases. The main problem diseases are Barley yellow dwarf virus (transmitted by aphids), eyespot, rhynchosporium, powdery mildew, septoria and take-all.
There is also a huge array of grass and broad-leafed weeds which can cause problems.
Soils on the Island tend to generally have fairly low pHs and fertility. Therefore in order to get reasonable yields, lime, fertilisers (either inorganic or from farmyard manure or slurry) and certain trace elements need to be applied to the soil and crops.
Cereals not only provide home produced feed for the Island's livestock industry and straw for bedding, but also crop diversity and winter stubbles which provide habitats and feeding ground for a variety of farmland birds and other wildlife.