Favourable weather in the South East has meant harvest has reached completion sooner than usual for some.
Norfolk farmer, Kit Papworth has finished harvesting 2000 hectares (ha) and claims it is the earliest the farm has finished in living memory. “We had an extraordinary run of weather and plenty of combine capacity.
“Our costs have been lower – we’ve cut all the winter crops without starting the drier which has never happened before and probably won’t happen again in my lifetime.”
Winter wheats LG Sundance, Evolution and Revolution have performed well on the farm this harvest. He says: “We are very pleased with Sundance, it has done extremely well – about 11-12t/ha which is exceptional for the type of land – light, sandy loams.”
Similarly, Suffolk estate director, Andrew Blenkiron says: “We finished two weeks ago having had good harvesting conditions. Wheat was 1t/ha down on the three year average at 8t/ha and barley did just over 6t/ha, about a tonne down but it came in nice and dry.
“Skyfall just out-yielded Solstice and with 14 per cent protein, 380 hagbergs and bushel weights of 78-80. We were pretty pleased with milling wheats given how dry May was and how wet, June.”
Further north, harvest is also nearing completion with only a small proportion of wheat on less favourable land and some spring crops left to cut.
North East sales manager at Frontier, John Speed says: “Winter barley is completed and is better than had been expected from the reports in the South. Yields are down on average at about 8t/ha but a range from 6.5 to 9t/ha with those that were pushed a bit harder with inputs doing better.”
Oilseed rape has been ‘disappointing’, typically yielding around 2.5t/ha but with considerable variation between varieties according to Mr Speed. He says varieties with better pod shatter resistance such as the DK varieties have done better where windy conditions have been a problem.
Eddie Gent, farming no-till on heavy fen land in Lincolnshire, feels conditions at establishment have been a more important factor in crop yield than cultivation methods.
He says: “Wheat is coming in fairly quickly, dry and good quality, but yields are a tonne and a half to two tonnes down on our average of 9.5-10t/ha. Evolution has come in at 9-9.5, but it was drilled in lovely condition. Skyfall and Santiago were both down, but they went in in poorer conditions.”
In Scotland, winter barley harvest is almost complete – at average to below average yields and quality. Earlier areas are now moving into spring barley and wheats, according NFU Scotland.
Ian Sands, NFU chairman, farming in Perthshire says: “Generally this year’s harvest has been better in some areas than others. The strong winds and heavy showers in August have had an impact on yields, particularly in the east of the country, with many waiting by combines to make the most of any dry spell.”
In the West Midlands, wheat harvest is 90 per cent complete and has been ‘a mixed bag’ according to agronomist, Kieran Walsh.
He says: “Proteins have been good at around 12-13 per cent, which is better than last year but yields have not been as good.
“Some of the top performing varieties have been Skyfall and Revelation. Reflection has also performed well where yellow rust was kept at bay and where appropriate fungicides were used at the correct timing.”
See also: Wheat quality better than yield
Meanwhile, spring barley harvest is still ongoing and while quality is mostly good, Mr Walsh says yields are slightly down and there are concerns over skinned grains.