For Nigel Horne, the early start and good straw price have helped offset the slight disappointment of missing top-spot prices after selling 75% of his oilseed rape forward.

Combining at Catmore Farm, West Ilsley, Berkshire, began with 47ha (116 acres) of Sequel winter barley on 18 July.

“That’s at least a week ahead of normal for us,” says Mr Horne.

“It was also the first time we’ve grown a six-row and I think it should average 8t/ha at 11-12.5% moisture.

“The sample wasn’t particularly attractive, but it all met the minimum 63kg/hl spec and it’s nearly all been delivered, which means we don’t have to worry about the heat that was in it.

“If you take into account the value of the straw and that it provides a good early entry for rape, it stacks up nicely against what we’ve done in the past.

“We’ve been moving away from trying to hit malting spec and ending up with a lower yield and the crop not making the grade.”

The straw, baled by neighbour Dan Whidborne, has been sold into Wales for 30/t.

“It adds nicely to the gross margin, although we only got 3-3.5t/ha – I’d hoped for over 4t/ha as we’ve had with the likes of Pearl.

“We have our own combine for the first time – a five-year-old Lexion 480 25ft cut that’s gone really well.”

Of the two desiccated oilseed rape varieties grown on 74ha (183 acres) to replace Winner, Lioness seems to have outperformed shorter Castille sown at much the same time, but no easier to cut, he says.

“But the combine wasn’t calibrated for rape – so we don’t know yet.

“Overall, given the pigeon damage we had, if we get our average 3.6t/ha, I shall be pleased.”

He adds:

“It wasn’t too dry.

We had some down to 6.5%, but the rest was 10-11%, which mixed in well.”

Mr Horne’s Malacca wheat was only just fit earlier this week.

andrew.blake@rbi.co.uk