Harvest 2020 at Southesk started on July 31 with a nibble around some winter barley headlands.
To be honest, we could have waited a few more days however it was a Friday afternoon and the forecast the following week was nothing to get excited about.
It was also good to see how many of us would be working that weekend, and if the combine now in her ninth season was mentally prepared for her farewell tour. With headlands cleared over a couple of afternoons, the chopper came out of gear and we fired into the bodies of the fields.
And the outcome? Well let’s just say average for now. It’s easy to forget during the highs and lows of harvest how the previous nine months have affected the end result, but I think for this year the story will be pretty consistent.
Winter crops established in wet conditions in 2019 sat through a wet winter with no requirement to put down roots due to copious amounts of available moisture.
The six week dry spell in spring meant the same crops subsequently were unable to find moisture and hence didn’t tiller or lost tillers as we headed into summer. Then the rain came, and the crops sucked up all the available fertiliser within easy reach, shot to the heavens, and yes, threw a few very late tillers on the way just to make harvest more of a headache than it usually is.
The spring crop summary for the year reads almost identically, however, change the wet start to a dry one and the rest is the same. In terms of our winter barley our KWS Orwell has yielded 7.2 tonnes per hectare at 65kg/hl with the LG Mountain 7.5t/ha at 62.5kg/hl, both varieties leaving massive bouts of straw behind the combine.
Our five-year average for winter barley on light land is 7.6t/ha so going back to the last nine months, we have nothing to complain about. What has been frustrating is our lack of progress since then. As I write this article on August 21, we have only just finished both the winter oats and oilseed rape with wet weather and painfully slow senescence to blame. Winter oats, which are usually my insurance policy in a difficult year have not performed with Dalguise yielding 6.77t/ha at 55kg/hl and Gerald 6.73t/ha at 53kg/hl, well behind our five-year average of 7.51t/ha.
For those of you who have followed my articles over the past year you will be aware of the struggle we have had with our winter oilseed rape crop since it was established into far from ideal conditions last September.
Sown on the wrong farm because of the weather behind chopped oat straw resulted in compromised emergence with poor autumn growth which was not helped by a chemically induced headache from the post emergence spray, a surprise visit from cabbage stem flea beetle, a not so surprising hammering by pigeons and then a late infestation of pollen beetle caused by a prolonged flowering period all chipped away at yield.
Well, I am pleased to say it has exceeded expectations with Acacia yielding 3.58t/ha, Incentive 3.43t/ha and SY Harnas 3.86t/ha which although behind our five-year average of 4.18t/ha is significantly higher than I could have expected.
Staying on the subject of oilseed rape, we have managed to direct drill 90ha of mainly LG Aurelia into textbook conditions along with seven variety plot trials sown on behalf of Bayer and a small field for Corteva.
A pre-emergence application of clomazone and metazachlor along with ferric phosphate has been completed on a crop sown three weeks earlier than 2019. Our thoughts now turn to early wheat establishment after vining peas and oilseed rape, however, unsurprisingly Mother Nature seems to have other plans for us with 29mm of rain forecast tomorrow. Back to the list of wet day jobs I fear.