With growers starting to harvest wheat crops, specific weights are holding up well, while there is some concern about protein levels - although it is early days.
Covering Dorset and Somerset, Frontier regional sales manager Russell Dean says although yields in his area are down on last year’s high levels, it is not unusual to see wheat yields of 9-11 tonnes/hectare.
Although few samples have been through the lab yet, on-farm testing is showing specific weights of 80kg/hl. “This is where the yield is coming from – good specific weights. But we are seeing variable protein; although it is a bit early to gain a true picture. Where farms are expecting 13 per cent for Group 1s, for example, some are getting 12.5 or 12 per cent.”
The variable protein levels could be explained by dilution due to yield, a wet early spring leading to leaching of nitrogen and the subsequent dry spell meaning the crop was unable to take up the nitrogen available to it, suggests Mr Dean.
Spring barley is also beginning to be harvested in the area with one example of a yield of 7.5t/ha, 95 per cent retained over a 2.5mm screen and nitrogen from 1.6-1.7 per cent: “Spot on,” he says.
However, there are secondary tillers in some crops which could be a challenge at harvest, he says. “The maturity is quite variable because of the secondary tillers and varies from field to field. Spring barley could be a protracted harvest.”
Suffolk-based grower Dan Kiddy, farm manager at William Kerr Farms says oilseed rape has yielded around 3.2t/ha and winter barley, around 7t/ha. “It is well down on normal. Normally it is 4t/ha for rape and around 9t/ha for barley.”
NIAB/TAG northern regional agronomist Patrick Stephenson says winter barley in his area is 60-70 per cent cut. “Yields are below average but better than expected. We were saved by the specific weight in many cases. Our yield average is usually 8-8.2t/ha but is closer to 7.2-7.5t/ha this year.”
Oilseed rape harvest has been protracted, he says. “Some of the last crops are only just being desiccated. We are not seeing average yields much above 2.5t/ha. Where it was established in good time it has yielded well but the rest has suffered from a mix of flea beetle, drought and pollen beetle.”