Harvest 2015 is off to a good start, with many growers delighted with their winter barley yields, and some promising oilseed rape crops also under way.

South east

In Kent, harvest was off to a flying start at Old Rides Farm, Eastchurch, where farm manager Andy Pendry had already finished cutting all 192ha of oilseed rape.

“We started combining on 14 July and were finished by 20 July,” he said. “We grew Incentive and PR46W21 which averaged just over 3.5-4t/ha with an oil content of 43-45%.”

Combining oilseed rape

Harvest started a week later than normal for Andy Pendry, pictured cutting oilseed rape

Winter barley was also ready to cut.

“We did a small section on 20 July which came off at just over 10t/ha but we’re expecting the remaining 41ha to yield around 9.5t/ha.”

Wheat should be ready next week and so far it looked very promising – although the peas were also turning quickly, added Mr Pendry. “They should be ready by 7 August which will be right in the middle of the wheat harvest.”

Cutting winter barley

Andy Pendry contract combining winter barley near Maidstone, Kent, yielding 9.9t/ha at a moisture of 14.8%

Home counties

In Berkshire, George Brown had had an excellent start to harvest at Priors Farm, Peasemore, with winter barley yields to make him proud.

“We’ve cut 38ha of Glacier at 14.5% moisture and have at least 400t in the shed already – according to the combine it’s doing 10.9t/ha which is fantastic.”

The sample was good quality as well, with a bushel weight of about 65kg/hl.

“We put a late fertiliser application on to try and produce a decent berry, and it’s a very heavy crop.”

See also: Keep up to date with our dedicated harvest webpage 

The spring barley, winter wheat and beans mostly looked well, although the beans had aborted some of the top pods, he added.

“I’m not sure how they will yield although they look well. If it all goes like the winter barley I’ll be very pleased.”

South west

Further South, George Rawlins had also made a very encouraging start to harvest at Ablington Farm, Figheldean, Wiltshire, with winter barley and oilseed rape now under way.

The 26ha of winter barley had yielded well, with Glacier at 9.9t/ha and Suzuka at 9.3t/ha, both from chalk ground that he would normally be happy to see doing 8.6t/ha.

Oilseed rape was also pleasing, with 20ha of Expower averaging 4.5t/ha.

“We’re generally happy to bring in 3.7t/ha, so things are looking very promising – especially since we’ve had so little rain this season.”

Winter wheat was still a good fortnight away, he added. “Judging by the barley we’ve got high hopes for it.”

However, it was a different story in Cornwall, where contractor Matthew Collins had been cutting organic winter barley near Marazion.

“We started cutting at 17.5% moisture on Sunday, which is slightly earlier than normal. We’ve cut 20ha so far and at between 5t and 6t/ha it’s not a great crop.”

Mr Collins had another 60ha of winter barley to cut, which he was hoping to start today (21 July) if the moisture was right. “It desperately needs cutting but we are expecting it to need drying.”

East Midlands

Most crops in the East Midlands had been coming off relatively dry, with winter barley between 13% and 16% moisture, said Philip Darke, managing director of Camgrain.

“Harvest started about a week ago (14 July), which is about a week later than normal, but it has really sped up over the past few days,” he said.

Yields were good at 9-10.5t/ha but early samples of malting barley had very low nitrogen levels, with some samples suffering from low retention too.

“Oilseed rape harvest is also about a week later than normal, but it has started to come in now and is moving quickly,” said Mr Darke.

“We are expecting winter wheat from Friday onwards – and spring barley crops are ripening very early.”