The hottest August Bank Holiday on record allowed for harvest to resume after a challenging few weeks for cereal growers throughout the UK.
At JPF Clay Farms, Herefordshire, wheat harvest began in earnest, says farm manager Mark Wood.
“Up until then it had been unripe, requiring drying. We had been doing bits and pieces. We had two fields which did about three tonnes per acre and the rest did more than 4t/acre which is pleasing.”
Bushel weights have been exceptional, with Costello at 80kg/hl or more and Graham averaging 73kg/hl, he says.
While some wheat has been cut at 19.5 per cent moisture, by the afternoon on Sunday (August 25), it had fallen to 13.5 per cent.
Harvest is 60 per cent complete on the farm, which has also seen peas yielding 4t/hectares.
“The quality has been superb,” says Mr Wood. “Oilseed rape did 1.2t/acre to 2t/acre depending on pest pressure and winter feed barley made 3.2t/acre.”
As well as 182ha of wheat still to cut, there is also 32ha of spring oats.
“The stem is still green on those,” says Mr Wood.
In Norfolk, Jim Scarratt’s 2019 cereal harvest came to an end on Sunday night (August 25), a week later than normal.
Mr Scarratt says: “Considering the dry spring, I have been relatively happy with harvest. Our average is up, with better yields than last year and I have had some results back and the quality is good.
"Spring barley has low nitrogens and the wheats we have had samples from so far have been good as well.”
Growing seed and feed wheat, varieties RGT Gravity, KWS Siskin and KWS Kerrin performed particularly well says Mr Scarratt.
“Everything has done almost 3t/acre minimum, and we have had some big yields of more than 11.5t/hectare.”
However, with a spell of wet weather putting harvest on hold for a week and heavy rain showers in mid-August, some crop was lost to lodging and shedding, he adds.
“We had a little bit of lodging on one field, but it did yield particularly high, so it was probably its only worst enemy. We found we were losing a little bit of grain which had shed in the last couple of storms, with some varieties losing about 0.5t/ha in places.”
In Fife, spring barley harvest commenced on August 26 for grower Alan Steven.
He says: “It is a lot better this week than last. Oats were barely ready last week and the straw was putting a lot of moisture in the grain.”
Now cutting Sienna malting barley at 15-16 per cent moisture, Mr Steven says yields have been impacted by the weather.
“Spring barley is probably not as big a yield because of the dry weather back in May, but we have been wetter through July and August. It is early days yet and the first field was not the best but averaged 2.5-3t/acre. We had stuff blown down with rain a few weeks ago which we are trying to get off the ground before we have more rain.
“The worry with malting barley is it spoils quickly in this showery, damp weather if you leave it and you could lose a good crop quite quickly.”
The wet weather means winter barley straw cut a month ago has only just been baled, adds Mr Steven.
In North Yorkshire about one-quarter of wheat had been cut before the Bank Holiday weekend, according to NIAB TAG independent agronomist Patrick Stephenson.
He says: “There has been some sprouting but hopefully the improvement in the weather will come at the right time to preserve some Hagbergs.”
Group 1s and 2s which have been cut have been averaging about 12 per cent protein, says Mr Stephenson.
“This is down on where we would like but not a disaster.
“Most growers are pleased with the quantity of grain they are going to get. Yields are ranging from 9.5-12 tonnes/ha. They are above average.”