Drier weather this week could herald the end of the cereal harvest for many growers after the UK suffered one on the coldest and wettest Augusts for a number of years.
In south-west England, harvest is almost complete, according to Ian Eastwood, marketing manager at West Country Grain.
“Somerset is pretty much done and dusted – there are just odd pockets of wheat, spring barley, beans, linseed and spring oats left,” he says.
“Further west there’s more to do – not a huge amount, but it’s significant for those farmers who haven’t finished. They’ll be hoping the more settled weather will help this week,” Mr Eastwood adds.
In Scotland, winter barley yields had averaged over 7.4t/ha, with spring barley coming off at about 6.4t/ha, according to Robin Barron at East of Scotland Farmers.
See also: Early harvest at Whitley Bay
Harvest was about 80% complete in the Perthshire/Angus area – the earliest since at least 2003. “Provided the weather stays dry, farmers around here will be at least 90% done by the end of this week,” he says.
While most growers were delighted with wheat yields this year, Yorkshire grower Jon Hodgson had a disappointing harvest at Great Newsome Farm, South Frodingham, some 12 miles east of Hull.
Winter wheat yields in the area were about 2.5t/ha below average, with poor specific weights and screenings partly to blame.
“There has been a lot of disease pressure and take-all down the East Coast – it’s certainly not down to variety, as my best variety was my neighbour’s worst,” Mr Hodgson says.
He also has 8ha of Odyssey spring barley left to cut – 0.3ha of which had been lost to flood damage in mid-August following heavy rain. “The waters have receded now but it’s deeply frustrating as we grow it for our own brewery on the farm,” he adds.
Across in North Wales, Glynn Jones had got just 28ha left to cut at Plas-yr-Esgov, St Asaph, but sporadic rain was proving frustrating.
“We thought we’d be finished by now but the past two weeks have been a real struggle,” he says.
Drizzly weather was also hampering harvest down in Hampshire, where Alan Cook had just a little linseed left to cut at Windwhistle Farm, near Romsey.
“We’ve cut 40ha so far and it looks to be about average. One forecast says it’s going to be hot and dry, which is perfect – but another says it’s going to be misty and drizzly, in which case we won’t be getting on at all,” he says.