With winter barley and oilseed rape harvest nearing completion, growers are turning their attention to winter wheat and spring-sown crops.
Essex grower Tom Bradshaw says: “We are well into the wheat now and thankfully everything is coming in dry and the quality is very good. Yields are 10 per cent down on average, with one or two highlights.
“Spring barley is about average, nothing exceptional – there is a lot of straw. Yields are about 6.3 tonnes/hectare. It is all malting barley and most is meeting the spec. The odd bit has high nitrogen but again quality is generally good.”
However, where black-grass populations have been high, Oxfordshire agronomist Paul Gruber says growers will have suffered a yield hit.
“It is a light land year, not a heavy land year; the penalty for black-grass is huge. On the whole, spring barley is fairish and we are back to normal yields for wheat after two exceptional years.
“Yields are a respectable 8-10t/ha. People are relatively content with that after the debacle of winter barley and oilseed rape.”
Further north, reports of high-yielding crops are more frequent. Lincolnshire agronomist Phil Burrell was ‘gobsmacked’ by a 10.2t/ha (4.1t/acre) crop of Reflection harvested on a client’s farm.
He says: “This was achieved despite no sunshine and 7in of rain in June.”
In the West, harvest is progressing well for Cheshire farmer Robert Cross.
Winter barley varieties Cassia and Pearl have been ‘very consistent’, according to Newcastle NFU combinable crops board member Brett Askew. He achieved 8.2t/ha (3.3t/acre) and specific weights of about 68kg/hl with both varieties.
Meanwhile, OSR yields have been less impressive at below 2.5t/ha (1t/acre), despite his long-term farm average being around 3.7t/ha (1.5t/acre), according to Mr Askew.
He says: “Winter barley and oilseed rape have been completed and we are well into the winter oats.
“Yields have been pleasing for barley and oats but less so for rape. Barley yielded 7t/ha and oilseed rape yielded 3.7t/ha even though it looked a 5t/ha crop. Bushel weights are generally down on normal.
Dorset agronomist Russell Dean says: “The focus in this area is on spring barley. Yields are not on par with last year, averaging 2.5-3t/ha.
“However, quality has been very good, with screenings low, retentions high and nitrogen between 1.5-1.8 per cent.”
Winter barley yields in AHDB Recommended List (RL) trials remain below average but are improving, latest results show.
Results to August 15 show both treated and untreated yields are still down on the five-year average. However, the gap is closing following new data from RL trials in Scotland, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.
AHDB RL manager Simon Oxley says: “The overall yield average of 9.14 tonne/hectare for 2016 continues to show a pattern of lower yields compared to the five-year average of 9.36t/ha, but the reduction is now 0.22t/ha below average compared to 0.43t/ha below average at the last set of results.
“Untreated yields are also down, with the 2016 average currently 6.75t/ha, compared to the five-year value of 7.54t/ha. So far, the highest average 2016 yields have been achieved at Croft, Tibthorpe and Cawood, in Yorkshire, and at Fife.”
Six-row feed varieties are topping the yield table, with hybrids Bazooka and Belfry delivering the highest yields at 111 per cent of control varieties.
Winter oilseed rape gross outputs also remain below the long-term average.
With data available from six trials from Yorkshire to Kent, the 2016 gross output value is 4.69t/ha (1.9t/acre), 0.75t/ha (0.3t/acre) below the four-year average of 5.44t/ha (2.2t/acre). There is variation in average gross output yields across the six sites, with Hereford achieving 5.51t/ha (2.23t/acre) but Hampshire averaging 3.96t/ha (1.6t/acre).
Currently, the higher-yielding varieties include Picto, Campus, Alizze, Angus and V316OL.