Eddie and Stuart Baker finished combining about 10 days ago at Ivy House Farm, Laxfield, Suffolk, and have drilled about half their oilseed rape.
“We’ve been very fortunate with the weather – most people have been finished for about a week, although there are still bits and pieces left to do,” said Stuart.
“However, it’s been a very disappointing harvest, mainly because expectations were so high.
“At T2 I didn’t think we’d have a single field that would yield below 9.8t/ha – the potential was astonishing. Even when we went in with the combine it looked good, but there was just nothing there.”
Oakley yielded 7.7t/ha, with a bushel weight of 66kg/hl, while Diego did the best at 10.4t/ha with a bushel weight of 77kg/hl.
“We’ve ended up averaging 9.2t/ha, which is 0.5-0.75t/ha below normal,” said Mr Baker.
“There was so much straw that it was difficult to combine, which slowed us up a lot – when we should have done 25-30t per hour, we were doing 16-20t.”
Oilseed rape was better, with Astrid coming off at 4.82t/ha, Vision at 4.57t/ha and Expower at 4.08t/ha.
“It hasn’t been the easiest of years with far too much rain, too many frosts and very little sunshine at flowering.”
Astrid’s oil content was 43.5%, with Expower at 44%. “But I’m not particularly pleased with Expower as it lodged very badly and I am sure this contributed to its disappointing performance.”
Although he had been advised to grow hybrid varieties, Mr Baker was not convinced.
“This year conventional varieties have easily outperformed hybrids by around 15%, so I’m really not sure.
“I am also concerned about the high biomass of most hybrids and the difficulties this will bring at harvest time.”
This year Mr Baker was drilling Astrid, Vision and Quartz, and would be sticking with Diego and Oakley wheat. “You can’t drop a variety on one year’s performance, and they have done well for us in the past.
“We’ve got about half our rapeseed drilled, and the land is just dead. We had 35mm of rain last week and it’s just lying in the tramlines, as if the top has just sealed.
“It’s just a matter of patience, lifting the ground with the Sumo and letting it dry out before drilling.”