As harvest draws to a close across much of the UK, in northern regions growers are being forced to compromise on moisture contents in order to get crops safely in the shed.
NFU Combinable Crops committee chairman Ian Sands, who farms at Balbeggie, near Perth, said: “There is a lot of anecdotal evidence from members around the country on just how challenging a harvest this has been with combines dodging between heavy showers of rain.
As we move into autumn, that means many still have a lot of crop still to cut, and those who have harvested will be facing additional drying costs.”
In north Aberdeenshire, Paul Murray has just finished harvesting his Flamingo oilseed rape. Although moisture content was high, it yielded a ‘pleasing’ 5.6 t/ha (2.3t/acre). Similarly, Irina spring barley averaged around 7.5t/ha (3t/acre) with low screenings but was cut at 18 per cent moisture.
Mr Murray said: “We have been forced to cut at higher moisture contents than we would like, but yields have been surprisingly good – OSR has yielded around 0.8t/ha better than last year and the oil content has been much higher.”
QMS and AHDB monitor farmer Rory Stodart, who farms at Mill of Inverarity, Angus, is about two-thirds of the way through harvest.
“Yield wise spring barley has done fairly well, averaging about 2.8-2.9t/acre. Chronicle was all cut in mid-August and did about 3.1t/acre. We have 40 acres of Concerto left and it has done worst at about 2.7t/acre,” said Mr Stodart.
So far, all his spring barley has met malting specification, with no loads rejected. He has also cut one field of feed Zulu wheat, which yielded 9.4t/ha (3.8t/acre).
Further south, Lincolnshire farmer and contractor Andrew Baxter achieved between 8.5-10t/ha with his winter wheat. Grain quality was ‘surprisingly good’ which he hopes will deliver a bit of a premium to compensate for the lower overall prices.
He expects straw demand in the area to be particularly high as a result of farmers chopping and spreading straw where conditions were too wet to bale.
He said: “Straw yields have been very disappointing – on average at least 20-25 per cent down on last year. If national demand for straw is high, there may well be insufficient stocks.”