In Cambridgeshire, Cassia winter barley yields are looking ‘suprisingly okay’ says Tom Mead of Mead Farms in Foxton.
“We finished cutting a 16ha field yesterday which did 8.6tonnes/hectare at 14 per cent moisture. This next field we are getting 8.8t/ha.”
Yields are slightly down on last year, but about in line with the farm’s five-year average, says Mr Mead.
“We generally find in dry years winter barley still performs quite well on our lighter soils because it has finished before it gets droughted out too much, so they are quite a good second cereal.
“I have got some wheats that I do not think will yield as well as some of the barley because they have suffered more from the drought.”
Despite the challenges of last winter, Mr Mead says the farm has fared okay in terms of planned rotation.
“We originally had spring barley planned in the rotation but because of our lighter soils we managed to get more drilled in the autumn. We increased our sugar beet and pea area a little bit and we still managed to get 50 per cent of the farm into winter wheat last autumn.”
In Wiltshire, yields are also looking ‘okay’ for six-row barley variety, Kingsbarn. Mixed farmer, David Butler began harvesting on Sunday July 12.
He says: “It is in line with what other growers in the area are saying - barley is looking better than expected and yield looks not too bad considering the growing season we have had. The grains are looking slightly washed in colour but for feed barley it should be okay.”
However, Mr Butler says 2020 harvest is still ‘very unusual’ due the effects of last winter.
“Spring barley is a crop that a few years we were not growing. Now it is arguably our most important crop. We have got half the wheat we would normally have and less winter barley and oilseed rape.”
Attention is also turning to OSR which has just been desiccated.
Mr Butler says: “We are not expecting this to be a very good crop. There will be good news stories within it, but I am expecting OSR to be disappointing on average.”