The wheat and spring barley harvests are picking up momentum, with early yields being seen at levels much better than French and German crops.

The first samples of milling wheat arrived at Wessex Grain this week and showed promising results, according to grain buyer George Harvey.

“The lower yields have pushed up the protein, with all bar one sample coming in above 13%,” he says.

All samples had Hagberg levels above 250 and specific weights of at least 76kg/hl, with Gallant appearing to be the top-performing variety so far.

See also: Harvest 2016: Winter barley harvest turns disappointing in Lincolnshire

The first sample of Propino spring barley had come in all fine – except one bit that had a small amount of fusarium – but specific weights were at least 64kg/hl and germination tested at 100%.

Disappointing winter barley

In eastern areas, the winter barley harvest was nearing completion, with yield and quality being described as disappointing.

All the winter barley had come in dry at Wessex Grain. At least 70% had specific weights of between 50kg/hl and 63kg/hl, and the rest above that level.

“Yields are down about 30% on last year, if not more,” says Mr Harvey.

Cassia had been the best-performing variety, while in general six-row hybrids have not done so well, yielding below conventional two-row varieties.

“However, there was one report of a crop of Tower near Bath that came off at 10t/ha,” he adds.

Oilseed rape oil contents were coming in at about 45%, with yields varying between 1.5t/ha and 3.7t/ha. Harvest has not yet been completed.

Oilseed rape in Wiltshire

In Wiltshire, Edward Parsons had finished combining his oilseed rape crop at Templemans Farm, Salisbury. With his own crop and his contracted work, he had harvested 202ha, 90% of which was Harper.

His own crop yielded 3.1t/ha, while some contracted Compass yielded 3.7t/ha.

“I also did 40ha that yielded just under 2t/ha, so overall rapeseed has been rubbish,” he says.

His spring barley crop looked well, while about 10% of his Crusoe winter wheat crop looked to have fusarium.

“Overall, 90% of the Crusoe has a good berry but I am expecting it to be mediocre,” he adds.

Mr Parsons also had some Lili wheat, which was about 10 days off combining, and linseed, which had gone flat, although some of it was starting to pick back up.

Wheat in Berkshire

In Berkshire, Stephen Whitby had made a start on his wheat crop at Rowley Farm, Wexham, Slough.

He combined 28ha of Skyfall at the beginning of the week at 17% moisture, which yielded between 7.4t/ha and 8.6t/ha, but he was still waiting on quality reports.

In total, he had 283ha of Skyfall and Crusoe, which he planned to get back into on Friday (5 Aug). Visually it looked promising, he says.

Mr Whitby’s spring barley crop of the variety Planet was also fit and he had another 12ha of Mulika spring wheat that was ready to be combined.

Barley in Norfolk

Further east, Nick Doig had finished harvesting his winter barley crop with very variable results at High House Farm, Thetford, Norfolk.

He grew 101ha, some of which was Flagon malting barley, which had specific weights of 59kg/hl to 63kg/hl.

His Cassia feed barley had specific weights between 61kg/hl and 63kg/hl and yielded 20-25% below average for his farm, at between 4.9t/ha and 5.2t/ha.

“I usually hope for around 6.7t/ha to 7.6t/ha,” he adds.

Mr Doig also has a good-looking spring barley crop, which he hoped to start combining on Friday, while he plans to start cutting his Diego and Claire winter wheat next week.