Friday, 19 September 2008 is a day I shall long remember. It was our 21st wedding anniversary, but it was also the first time this harvest that we managed to cut wheat below 15% moisture.

In fact, the moisture finally bottomed out at 13.6% that day, and being able to grab the final 500t without drying was a welcome relief.

I still have to take Frances out for an anniversary evening, because with dry wheat still to be cut then she said I wouldn’t have been much company.

It has been of great interest to see how the quality of wheat and rye has hung on despite some of it being harvested almost six weeks after it was first fit.

The difference between wheat varieties has been marked. Their ability to hang on to to their quality and not to sprout or shed has not been one of the key attributes we have studied when selecting varieties in the past.

Now that characteristic has become important. The experience has certainly reinforced our policy of growing up to five varieties of tried and tested wheats to spread the risk and buy some insurance.

Soft milling variety Wizard has excelled this year and although not widely grown will continue to feature on our farms. Harvested last here between 15 and 20 September it came in with a 78kg/hl bushel weight with no sprouting or shedding evident.

While I always like to get the most out of our combines, a 12-week harvesting period does seem excessive. Cutting got seriously prolonged in the past two weeks by having to tackle 170 acres of very flat oats, which could be harvested only when the sun was out. Even then it had to be cut one way only.

Visits from passing “demonstrators” were then remarkably sparse.