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Harvest 2019 update: Weather headaches continue for British farmers

Weather has remained variable across the country, prolonging harvest and prompting fears for the quality of late-harvested crops.

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While most wheat has now been harvested in North Lincolnshire, many spring oats and spring bean crops are still to cut.

 

Farmacy agronomist Ben Treadgold, who covers the area, says 95 per cent of wheat is harvested. “The odd field is still standing, but we are getting there,” he says.

 

“Yields have been above average, but not as high as people had estimated pre-harvest.

 

“This is mostly down to the weather. We had a large amount of rain in mid-Lincolnshire around the time of Cereals, which had an effect on some of the wheats when they were flowering.

 

“Yields have been 3.5-4.5 tonnes/acre, around 9t/ha. Milling wheats have been slightly down on proteins and hagbergs.

 

“I think some of the nitrogen was diluted across the large biomass we were seeing in fields.”

 

Rain has hampered progress by about two to three weeks in some areas, he says.

 

Quality of spring beans is generally good compared with last year, says Mr Treadgold.

 

“Bruchid [beetle damage] looks lower. Yield-wise they are doing 2t/acre or 5t/ha,” he says.

 

He is optimistic recent samples will meet human consumption grade.

 

Meanwhile, near Perth, harvest is becoming a stop-start affair for Ian Sands, NFU Scotland combinable crops chairman.

 

He has 64ha of wheat left to cut from a total cereals area of 580ha. It is destined for distillers.

 

“We had 14mm of rain last night (September 8) and it is still raining. The fields are getting soft and quality issues could rear their head,” he says.

 

“Until the weekend, we got very little harvested in the last 10 days. We were cutting Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but probably won’t get in again until next weekend.”

 

Some farms in the area have seen sprouting heads and a few spring oat crops are flat, says Mr Sands.


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Best wheat yields in ‘worst ever’ conditions

As cereal harvest comes to a close at Flawborough Farms in the Vale of Belvoir, wheat yields are well above the five-year average, says grower Tom Hawthorne, with top performing varieties Gleam and LG Skyscraper averaging 11.6 tonnes/hectare.

 

He says: “We’ve had good yields – the best we’ve ever seen on the home farm, but bushel weights were quite low, which tells me there was a lot of very average grain.”

 

Hybrid winter barley yields were also good, but harvest proved challenging after problems with lodging and delays caused by the weather.

 

“We were massively delayed from mid-July until August – it was the worst ever,” says Mr Hawthorne.

 

“The straw was bizarre – very green, but the ear was very fit. They were too good and the weather knocked it over.”

 

Winter beans this year also performed particularly well, he adds.

 

RL wheat above average

AHDB Recommended List (RL) winter wheat yields from 17 trial sites remain 0.51t/ha ahead of the five-year average of control varieties at 11.76t/ha.

 

This year, Group 4 variety LG Skyscraper is the highest yielding at 106 per cent, followed by KWS Kerrin at 105 per cent, Gleam at 104 per cent, and LG Spotlight, RGT Gravity, Graham and Shabras all at 103 per cent.

 

Crusoe is the top yielding nabim Group 1 bread variety at 99 per cent, while KWS Extase and KWS Siskin are the highest yielding nabim Group 2 bread wheats at 101 per cent.

 

KWS Firefly leads the nabim Group 3 biscuit yields at 102 per cent.

 

Varieties with the highest septoria tritici disease ratings lead the way for untreated yields, with KWS Extase at 134 per cent, Graham at 124 per cent and LG Sundance at 117 per cent of the untreated control.

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