Despite rain stopping play towards the end of last week, a welcome dose of sunshine has unleashed combines across much of the South, but quality is still lacking. Abby Kellett and Alan Stennett reports.
Lincolnshire farmer, Mark Ireland is ‘very disappointed’ with first impressions of a crop of Flagon winter barley, coming in at 6.2 to 6.7 tonnes per hectare (2.5 to 2.7t/acre) with bushel weights below 60kg/hl.
He says: “It looked a lovely crop – heaps of straw – but the quality isn’t there. I’ve never harvested barley on the this farm with bushel weights in the 50s.”
Jack Richardson, who farms near Boston achieved 7.1 t/ha (2.9t/acre) with a field of Volume hybrid barley with a moisture content between 12.4-14 per cent and a bushel weight of 53-55kg/hl.
See also: Initial harvests indicate quality issues
He says: “Last year it all did over 10t/ha. I think it’s due to lack of sun for grain fill and also a wet June which meant a lot of it was laid over.”
Neil Harper, Agrii agronomist, Kent says most growers in his area will not be starting harvest until next week.
“I’m not expecting record breaking yields, because of the weather patterns and lack of sun,” he says.
Many farmers have begun desiccating oilseed rape (OSR) crops, with the view of harvesting towards the end of the month.
However, in some areas, OSR harvest is underway. Early reports indicate damage from cabbage stem flea beetle has had an impact on crop yield and quality in high risk regions.
Mr Harper says: “Early harvested oilseed rape has small grains. Last year it was big and bold. But until the combine goes in you can’t always tell.”
Too much rain and not enough sun coupled with cabbage stem flea beetle damage has led to one Suffolk farmer suffering an OSR yield hit compared with previous years.
He says: “In the last eight years growing high erucic acid rapeseed, we have ranged from 1.5 to 2t/acre. So far, this year is averaging 1.25t/acre.”
According to independent agronomist, Simon Dawson, wheat crops in the South East are typically three weeks away from harvest, however on lighter land and where crops were drilled early, they could be as little as 10 days away.