Jim Macfarlane has made the earliest start to harvest ever at Edrington Mains Farm, Edington, Berwick-upon-Tweed.

“We started combining on Thursday (24 July) – we probably could have started on Tuesday but I had to come home early from holiday as it was,” he said.

“We’ve only ever cut in July once before – it’s quite remarkable.”

The Archer winter barley had yielded a pleasing 8.6t/ha, but looked as if bushel weight would be on the low side, said Mr Macfarlane. “I think the maltsters are going to drop it – it’s a bit disappointing.”

See also: Harvest photos – rainbows and blue skies get the thumbs up.

Crop facts

  • Crop: Winter barley
  • Variety: Archer
  • Area: 24ha
  • Yield: 8.6t/ha

So far Mr Macfarlane had cut 24ha of his own winter barley and some organic barley for a neighbour. “That looked pretty good, for an organic crop.”

Straw yields had been excellent, but there were a lot of slugs around, which didn’t bode well for next year’s crops, he added.

Farmers had cut quite a bit of barley and some oilseed rape in the area, but Mr Macfarlane’s rape was still some way off.

“We’ve desiccated it and usually wait at least three weeks, but it seems to have come on very fast in the heat,” he said.

Unfortunately a huge thunderstorm had put paid to combining over the weekend, causing localised flooding and storm damage.

“We got the grain trailer into the shed, full of barley – and water was pouring out of the back of it,” said Mr Macfarlane.

“We’ve been quite lucky but it’s done a fair bit of damage to some crops – some of the spring barley has gone down and my neighbour’s winter beans are pretty mangled.”