Harvest is earlier than normal in Suffolk, and winter barley yields have been below average so far.
John Humphreys, arable products manager at co-op AtlasFram, said although harvest and oilseed rape desiccation started about a week earlier than usual, showery weather meant progress would be on par with other years by next week.
“At the moment winter barley yields are on the low side at 3-5t/ha (1.2-2t/acre), with low bushelweights, as you would expect. But the better crops are yet to be cut.
“Most people are itching to get combining but as the rain has come there’s been some regrowth in barley, which they’re now having to desiccate; there are two or three crops in one field, in some cases.”
Wheat was ripening quickly, and yields would range from 10% down to 30% down, with early drilled first wheats performing best, he predicted.
“Some fields are so bad I really question how farmers are going to harvest them, they are so thin, short, patchy and full of regrowth. Overall, I think yields will be 15% down.”
However, stem-based fusarium was rife in wheat crops, regardless of variety, he added. “That will pull even the best yields back a bit.”
Verticilium wilt was also causing problems in oilseed rape. “Rapeseed pods have filled quite nicely, but some stems will die off and seed pods will shatter, which will affect yields.”