Heavy rain showers over the past week have led to harvest delays and high grain moisture levels throughout much of the country, with persistent rain threatening crop yield in some areas.
Kent farmer Andrew Barr managed to harvest a small area of oilseed rape (OSR) ahead of the rain which yielded 4.3 tonnes/hectare (1.74t/acre). However, progress on other crops has been halted by the weather. “We are getting no two dry days in a row,” he said.
Farmer and Agrii regional technical manager David Felce, who farms near St Neots, Cambridgeshire, said some Skyfall second wheat was ready to harvest two weeks ago but rain had interfered with plans.“We are concerned wheats were ready but are now getting continually wet.
“We had an inch of rain on Saturday [July 29] and we do not really want to go at more than 17 per cent moisture as we do not have a high capacity drying system,” said Mr Felce.
Robert Law, who farms 1,600ha (3,952 acres) near Royston, Hertfordshire, said he was still cutting Carat winter barley (July 31) and while harvest was originally early, he was now behind where he would normally be. “Yields are disappointing and down on last year, ranging from 6-8t/ha. Bushel weights are 68-72kg/hl.”
Although, Mr Law had not started harvesting his own wheat, he said some crops of Skyfall in the area have yielded about 9-9.5 tonnes/ha (3.6-3.8t/acre) with a bushel weights of about 68kg/hl.
In north Lincolnshire, Colin Chappell managed to cut a 4.4t/ha (1.8t/acre) crop of Alizze and a 5.2t/ha (2.1t/acre) crop of DK Extrovert, just before rain arrived.
“We managed to get finished at quarter to one in the morning, which turned out to be a good call since 7mm of rain fell the following day,” said Mr Chappell.
No-till farmer Eddie Gent, who farms near Wisbech, finished harvesting OSR before the end of July. “The rape yielded between 4-4.5t/ha, we were pretty pleased with that,” he said.
In the area, he estimated that 10-20 per cent of OSR is yet to be cut.
“Everybody is struggling to find little gaps between showers to get things in and there are not many of them.”
I give us half an hour before we get rained off again, haven't had 1 complete day's work out of the combine so far this year! pic.twitter.com/CkTGEAzXek— Russell McKenzie (@russbmckenzie)
Despite wheat being ready to harvest, Mr Gent said he needed a couple of days of good weather before he could start combining it.
In Scotland, early cut winter barley has yielded well, according to Frontier agronomist Mike Barry. “Yields have been average to above average. Quality is good and malting barley nitrogen levels are within spec.
“Weather has hampered progress and crops are taking a battering from winds and rain and so brackling losses are likely.
“Early OSR reports have been of higher than average yields, 4.5-5t/ha. What has been cut was done at fairly high moisture as growers feared pods would shatter, which was a problem last year,” he said.
Mr Barry estimated most wheat would be ready to harvest in the third week of August, with some of the early crops ready this week.
In Northumberland, intermittent rain showers have meant harvest has been ‘very frustrating’, according to farmer Shaun Watson. If unsettled weather persists, combines will have trouble travelling, he said.
“We have only cut Bazooka barley to date. It yielded 9.1t/ha, with bushel weights around 64kg/hl. OSR is also ready to cut and our oats are about 10 days off cutting.
“We have early wheats ready to spray off, so pressure is rising. All in all, harvest has not worked out as early as we first thought but yields look promising,” said Mr Watson.
In line with growers’ reports, AHDB Recommended List (RL) trial results to date show winter barley yields across the country are comparable to five-year averages.
New candidate variety Libra has produced the joint highest yield in Cambridgeshire at 122 per cent, along with Belfry.
In Dorset, California outperformed its competition at 117 per cent, while in Moray, Volume boasted the highest yield at 111 per cent.
There was no separating the four top varieties in Cheshire, with Volume, Bazooka, Belfry and Sunningdale all achieving 107 per cent. This was closely followed by Funky and candidate variety, Hiverac, yielding 105 per cent.
Latest Recommended List results are available at cereals.ahdb.org.uk