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Initial harvests indicate quality issues


Despite delays, harvest 2016 is finally underway with reports of winter barley being harvested on some lighter land in Norfolk, Kent, Dorset and Suffolk.

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Dorset farmer, Calvin Hooper harvested his first field of winter barley with a moisture content of 15 per cent at the end of last week, but claims grain quality was poor.


He says: “Quality is not there at all. Bushel weight is 57kg/hl when it should be 63.”


Small grains and poor bushel weight have been reported extensively where harvesting has commenced.


This is likely to affect crop yield, which is another concern among growers.


Tim Lamyman, who grew a record-breaking 16.5t/ha (6.7t/acre) wheat crop on his farm in North Lincolnshire last year, is expecting a very different outcome this season.


“There’s been no sunlight for the crop for the last three months, so those big yields are not going to be there.”


Shropshire farmer, David Carr agrees: “I don’t think our barley will break any records this year. It didn’t like the wet winter and there’s lots of patches of BYDV, even though we used Deter dressed seed.”


Although some growers in typically early harvest areas are hoping to start combining in the next few days, weather permitting, on average most believe barley harvest is about one to two weeks away and oilseed rape around two to three.


See also: Patchy pea harvest delivering average yields


“Although barley looks ripe from a distance, it will be at least two weeks away,” says Mr Carr.


Further north, harvest is expected to be even later.


Charles Roe, farmer and agronomist says that sun is a vital necessity for all the crops in south and east Lincolnshire, and that harvest is still some days off.


“I think it will be later than normal – some of the rapes will not need to be desiccated for another two weeks or so, so it won’t be early by any means.”


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