Barley being harvested© Tim Scrivener

Spring barley looks to be the surprise performer of the summer, with growers reporting good yields and some even outyielding their winter counterparts.

“Perfect” weather in recent months has left arable farmers from Cornwall to Scotland with better-than-anticipated spring barley yields. This brings some more positive news in a largely lacklustre harvest. 

Farmer Focus writer Jeremy Oatey, who manages 1,200ha of arable land near Plymouth, Devon, grew about 80ha of Propino spring malting barley and a single block of the feed variety Kelim.

See also: High Reflection wheat yields surprise some growers

We haven’t finished the harvest, but my suspicion is that it will be the crop of the year. Wheat yields seem about average, but spring barley has pulled out all the stops Jeremy Oatey, barley grower

He wrote on Twitter that the crop “seems to have done the business this year”.

With a single day of harvesting left, his spring barley crop had already exceeded expectations and “outyielded” this year’s winter barley.

“Spring barley can be quite variable, but it seems to have performed well,” he told Farmers Weekly.

“We’ve done about three-quarters of a tonne a hectare better than last year.

“We haven’t finished the harvest, but my suspicion is that it will be the crop of the year. Wheat yields seem about average, but spring barley has pulled out all the stops,” he says.

Mr Oatey attributed the result to recent weather, which he says was “just right” for spring barley.

Essex

Edward Ford, a zero-till arable farmer from Brentwood, Essex, agrees.

“The spring barley has had everything,” he said. “It’s been perfect with rain at the right time in June.”

Mr Ford is part way through harvesting his first zero-till spring barley crop on between 70ha and 80ha.

So far, combines are reporting about 6t/ha for Propino, he said.

“We’ve had one outstanding field so far and the others have been average. But for the first year at zero-till we’re probably most impressed [of all our crops] with the spring barley,” he says.

Scotland

Highland Grain supplier Alan Whiteford is two-thirds of the way through harvesting 110ha of spring malting barley Concerto in Nigg, Ross-shire.

Despite unusually wet weather at the end of June and throughout July, spring barley yield has averaged 7.5t/ha.

“The quality is very good – we’re very pleased with the quality – and yields are about 7.5t/ha, which is much the same, or maybe slightly better than last year,” says Mr Whiteford.

“We benefited from a good start to May, but it did struggle through the flowering period. The end of June and throughout July was unusually wet.

But we have come through that without too much ill effect.

“In spite of the poor period, we’re really quite happy with the outlook,” he adds.