Combining in Cornwall

Contractor John Moss has finally finished combining near Saltash, Cornwall, but still has a lot of straw to bale and clear.

“We’ve had a very fractious time,” he said. “The weather has been diabolical. We had downsized to two combines, but took on more land and hired another one in, which has been our saving grace really.”

Although the grain had been ripe, much of the straw had been green, which had slowed down combine throughputs and meant much of the straw was still to be cleared, said Mr Moss.

“I think there’s going to be a lot more use of pre-harvest Roundup next year – probably 40% of the straw we cut was green, and there are acres and acres of oat straw that just won’t dry.

“Where people did desiccate, it’s been much easier to combine, and you can bale it straight up.”

Quality and yields were lower than normal, with Diego proving the best performer, he added.

“Duxford, which has been our top yielder for the past few years, was a complete disaster, yielding 1.9t/ha less than Diego. Invicta was also poor – we just couldn’t control the septoria and fusarium.”

With the lack of sunshine to blame for low bushel weights and yields, it was unsurprising that due South-facing fields had yielded the best, with a good 1.2-1.9t/ha extra weight, said Mr Moss.

“We had two crops of spring barley at Howton Farm, Pillaton, and neither made malting as they had low bushel weights and split grains.

“It’s a shame, as all the crops looked absolutely splendid – they just didn’t perform.”

Most people had finished harvest in the area, although there was plenty of straw still to bale, he added.

“We’re now busy planting oilseed rape, and just hope that next year will be better. Although it’s late, the ground temperature is warm, and ground conditions aren’t too bad – the seed germinated in just two days, before we had a chance to roll it.”