We have been very lucky in this area to have a dry spell of weather which has allowed harvesting to progress well. Although we started later than last year it has been much easier because of the dry ground conditions. As at September 20 we only have eight hectares of spring wheat which is not ripe left to harvest. Despite it being dry there has been very little wind and by the time the overnight dew had dried off the crop it has made for short harvesting days.
The short weather window of opportunity seems to be shorter than it used to be, thus for the next few harvests I have decided to keep the two combines.
The drier ground conditions have allowed us to operate the Krone 4x4 big pack baler to its full potential this year. Coupled to a Fendt 939 it has been managing to clear 11-12ha of straw per hour.
Spring barley yields have been good despite not having much sunlight all summer. Maresi, the old variety which is grown for a specific high N market, was once again the poorest yielder at 6.93 tonnes/ha. I think we may have to rethink growing this variety unless the premium for growing it is increased or the new variety Olympus replaces it.
This will very much depend on how it performs with the maltser and distiller; in the field Olympus performed very well and was clean from disease all season. It yielded 7.38t/ha, Concerto averaged 7.51t/ha and Moonshine 7.42t/ha. All spring barley has produced large qualities of straw and this along with an additional 66ha from a neighbour should hopefully see us through until next harvest.
Wheat yields are back from our normal average to 8.42t/ha this year but this was to be expected considering the poor drilling conditions last autumn. The drowned-out areas were resown with spring wheat and harvested together.
Two-thirds of the spring barley and all the wheat was sprayed with Clinic (glyphosate) and Companion Gold in order to kill it off as it was very slow to ripen this year, probably due to the lack of sun. But even with the Clinic on for two weeks some of the straw was green and had to be left in the bout for three or four days to die off.
As well as combining we have also managed to make very dry third cut silage which was layered in the pit along with wholecrop spring barley.
Winter barley drilling started on September 15 into ideal seedbeds. I normally grow winter barley in fields which will be sown out with intensive silage leys the following year as soon as the winter barley is cut or into fields which can out-winter cows with stubble turnips sown after harvest.
I usually drill the same fields this way every year and have done so for more than 25 years but sterile brome has become a problem, especially on the headlands or any shallow ploughed areas. In order to control this I have moved fields and broken the stubbles to get some of the seeds to germinate.
This year’s grass was sown after an early harvested field of spring barley because of the change in cropping plans but has grown really well and will need to be grazed before winter with the sheep. The stubble turnips have also grown very well this autumn too.