Graham Furey has finished combining winter barley and oilseed rape at Castleview, Killyleagh, Co Down – the earliest he has ever done so.

“It’s the first time we’ve ever cleared barley and rape by the end of July,” he said. “We had excellent hot weather last week, which brought everything on really quickly.”

Wheat was also nearly ripe, he added. “We’ll be into the Einstein next week. We had high hopes for it for a long while, but there’s a bit of disease come into it right at the end.”

Most crops in the area looked good, but farmers had been slightly disappointed by the yields, said Mr Furey.

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“There’s a lot of barley at 7.4-8.6t/ha – and this year our Cassia two-row out-yielded the Volume six-row, which is unusual.”

Volume averaged 7.4-8t/ha, with bushel weights in the low 60s kg/hl, while the Cassia came off at 8.6t/ha in the mid 60s kg/hl.

“The Cassia got off to a good start last autumn – I think the six row probably proves itself more in difficult conditions.”

The winter barley had come off fairly dry, at 14.5-16.5%, while oilseed rape was at 11-15%.

“We had some of the old variety Castille, which we had to cut a bit green, but the rest was Expower and a little bit of Sensation from southern Ireland,” said Mr Furey.

“The Sensation looked terrible all year, but it yielded well – probably better that the Expower would have done in the same field.”

One field had performed particularly badly, at less than 2.5t/ha, but the rest of the rapeseed was at almost 3.7t/ha. “I think that one field was suffering from low pH,” he added.