While frustration looms among growers as intermittent rain continues to cause delays, harvested crops have yielded close to five-year average figures. However, crop quality has been more variable.
In Morayshire, persistent rain has put a stop to harvest, despite good initial progress, said Iain Green “The weather while we were cutting the first 100 acre of winter barley was fantastic, yields were decent and we didn’t even have to dry it. But in the last 10 days, we have only had around 20 minutes of cutting and the weather doesn’t look like improving anytime soon.”
Richard Boldan, farming near Howden in East Yorkshire said: “What initially looked like being a nice spread out harvest is now going to be a mad scramble when it dries up.”
Mr Boldan made a start harvesting October-drilled Belepi winter wheat at the weekend [August 5], which yielded 9.5-10t/ha (3.8-4t/acre). Elgar oilseed rape (OSR) harvested a few days earlier averaged 4.74 t/ha (1.9t/acre). “It is notable how little straw there is, I suspect this is a result of the dry spring,” he said.
Lincolnshire grower, David Forest took advantage of two days of good weather at the weekend to clear 49ha (120 acres) of winter wheat. He said he was ‘very satisfied’ with JB Diego and Gallant, both of which yielded between 8.2-10.9t/ha (3.3-4.4t/acre), with second wheat some of the best performing crops to date.
“Hybrid and conventional OSR came in at about 3.7t/ha (1.5t/acre) on average at 44-46 per cent oils, which is better than last year,” he added.
Farming on mostly sandy loam soils, Andy Roberts, from Pattingham, near Wolverhampton, had winter wheat and spring barley ready for harvest last week but said spring barley had gone from being ‘barely fit to brackling’ in a short space of time.
Despite weather being ‘catchy’, he has now harvested all his winter barley and OSR. “Venture winter barley averaged 6.5 t/ha - quality was good and so it will be going for malting.”
OSR yields of Nikita and Elgar averaged a pleasing 4.5 t/ha (1.8t/acre).
Tom Bradshaw, who farms near Colchester, Essex, has cut 115ha (285 acres) of Null-Lox spring barley variety Chapeau, which is destined for Gleadell. He said: “The quality has been very good, nitrogen has averaged 1.75 per cent and it yielded 6.3-6.4t/ha.
“We have cut 15 acres of wheat but it is too early to say how it is doing. Moistures are around 15.5-16 per cent which is a bit higher than we would like.”
Showers in Essex, where NFU president, Guy Smith farms, are adversely affecting wheat quality. He said: “Bushel weights are creeping dangerously low to 72 for feed variety Santiago, but it is fair to say there are good and poor crops.”
According to AHDH Recommended List trial results, winter barley yields from 13 trial sites across the UK have averaged 9.64t/ha (3.9t/acre), similar to the five year average of 9.61t/ha (3.8t/acre)
Of the six-row hybrid feed varieties, Belfry (111 per cent), Bazooka (110 per cent), and Sunningdale (109 per cent) all performed well, as did conventional six-row variety, Funky (108 per cent).
The two-row feed varieties with the top yields were KWS Orwell (105 per cent), California (105 per cent), KWS Infinity (103 per cent) and Surge (102 per cent).
Meanwhile, OSR varieties across the sites averaged 5.14t/ha (2.1t/acre), just below the four-year average of 5.42t/ha (2.2t/acre). Yields range from 4.54t/ha (1.8t/ha) in Hampshire to 5.69t/ha (2.3t/acre) in Oxfordshire.
The restored hybrid varieties Wembley (109 per cent), Windozz (106 per cent), and the conventional variety Flamingo (104 per cent) have performed well to date.