Many farmers in the South West are finishing up their winter barley today (10 August), with oilseed rape harvest now halfway through.

“Until this dry spell harvest has been painstakingly slow,” said Agrii agronomist Mike Horsburgh.

“Winter barley yields have been lower than last year, at between 5t and 7.4t/ha. Two row quality is better than six rows, which have reverted back to their very poor bushel weights.”

Oilseed rape yields had dropped back from last year’s highs to a more normal average of between 2.5t and 3.9t/ha, he said.

“The seed is quite small, and the pods are smaller too; I would expect oil contents to be down.”

The very protracted two-week flowering period meant wheat yields were also likely to be lower, said Mr Horsburgh.

“Normally wheat flowers for three or four days. There is a lot of fusarium and blind grain sites.”

With the late season and wet start, many farmers in the region had opted to cut their wheat as wholecrop instead of waiting for it to ripen, he added.

“People who grow oilseed rape after wheat will be very late drilling this year, so wholecropping is a way of getting the crop off the field and providing fodder to livestock producers.

“However, crops are ripening fast now, so the rest of the wheat will be ready to combine in seven to 10 days.”