The combines have started rolling in the southern half of England, with winter barley crops performing well in the main.
It has been an early start in West Cornwall, where harvest kicked off five or six days earlier than usual, according to grower Matthew Collins, who has cut the winter barley varieties Cassia and Surge.
He says: “Yield wise, we are on par with last year, reaching over 7.5 tonnes/hectare. Moisture is around 17 per cent but it has been as low as 14.5 per cent. At 14 per cent moisture, the bushel weight is 68.2kg/hl.”
Further east, where drought last summer saw tonnage nosedive, yields are up 20 per cent on last year for Cambridgeshire farmer James Peck, despite the heavy June rainfall causing some crops to lodge.
He says: “We had 130mm of rain so some of the barley fell over. We are concentrating on cutting those fields first to avoid issues with pigeons homing in. We grow 8,000t of Bazooka which is a tall variety and is weaker strawed, which does not help.”
Yield is looking better than the two previous years, and the little rain they had this season came just at the right time, adds Mr Peck.
He says: “Growing conditions were good and there is a huge amount of straw that we have rowed up and baled. Some areas were so tall that the combine steps were bent by large swaths. The overall crop has done well in growth in straw and grain.”
Winter barley yields at Lower Odd Farm in Wiltshire are looking better than for the last few years, according to farmer Roger Wilson who has finished combining the varieties Libra and Tower.
He says: “Yields this year are significantly over 7.5t/ha with a bushel weight of 66-67kg/hl and we have huge volumes of straw – it is quite unusual to have both the grain yield and the straw.
“We were very lucky here and we had more rainfall than some of the eastern counties. When we were getting in a situation that was looking desperate, suddenly we had rain.”
Cutting at 13-14.5 per cent moisture, harvesting conditions were good and Mr Wilson remains optimistic for the remaining crop harvest.
He says: “We suffered last year with a cold, wet spring followed by the drought. Our land is quite heavy so we could not get on early enough to plant things. Last year, beans went in on April 24. This year, they went in on February 24 and they look absolutely fantastic.”