Colin-Rayner

A delayed harvest has put great pressure on Colin Rayner and his team at Berkyn Manor Farm, Windsor, Berkshire, with combining yet to be completed.

Wet ground conditions had halted the combine today (12 September), which, despite being on tracks, was struggling to travel.

“We’ve had some land in Essex for 12 years and the combine has travelled through floods and everything,” said Mr Rayner. “This year we took it into the field and it disappeared out of sight.”

While wet conditions had stopped play today, results had been pleasing, with an above average harvest.

“We were very surprised with yields,” he said. “We’ve had good bushel weights and a good sample. Yields, too, have been good.

“We’re no better farmers than our neighbours and they had a poor harvest. I think we just missed some of that rain.”

Sequel winter barley performed better than normal, and rapeseed proved to be a fairly good crop for the light soil type, while Oakley winter wheat suffered with some yellow rust problems.

“Straw is still bright but I can’t understand how there’s not more demand for it,” said Mr Rayner. “There are guys down south selling for three times what I’m selling it at.

“Some of the straw is still green but I took the decision to cut it if the grains were right,” he added.

With over 1000ha combined this season, split between rapeseed, barley and first and second wheats, Mr Rayner couldn’t praise his staff enough, especially in such a challenging year.

“The staff are exhausted, the management are exhausted and even the dog’s tired,” he said.

“Our tractors drivers have shown tremendous strength this season. They’ve worked for weeks and never moaned. It’s been a long season.”

Looking ahead to next year, rapeseed drilling had been somewhat delayed due to the poor weather, and Mr Rayner had had a re-think about his combine.

“When we buy our next combine I think we need four-wheel drive. I’ve been scared we will damage this one pulling it out of the mud.

“I’ve left odd patches in fields which I couldn’t get to, but I was cheered up no end to see many other farmers have had to do this up and down the country, too.”