Two big Suffolk Breckland farming estates are reporting good winter barley yields despite the dry early spring which hit crops on this light blow-away sandy arable land.
Both the Elveden and Euston estates in north-west Suffolk started harvest earlier than normal as a dry June and July brought crops to maturity quickly with yields and grain quality better than first thought.
The vast Elveden estate grows 700ha of winter barley, and assistant farm manager Tom Forrest says they have had the earliest ever start to cereal harvest on 3 July.
One high-value seed crop of Flagon received 25mm of irrigation in the dry April and yielded 8.2t/ha, but an unirrigated crop of the six-row hybrid Bazooka did 7.2t/ha and the two-row malter Venture managed 6.6t/ha.
This is set against the winter barley budgeted yield for the 8,800ha estate of 7.0-7.5t/ha. The estate also grows winter wheat, rye and spring barley and an array of vegetables including onions, carrots, parsnips and potatoes.
Watch the video report of the winter barley harvest at Elveden Estate below.
“We have made a reasonable start to harvest. The irrigated crops were good while the others were below average, but given the very dry spring we can’t grumble,” Mr Forrest told Farmers Weekly.
The estate grows some 4,200ha of arable crops including a range winter barley varieties such as Flagon, Bazooka, Sunningdale, Venture and Craft.
Good results at Euston
A few miles east on the 4,200ha Euston Estate, farm manager Matthew Hawthorne has 330ha of winter barley to cut and is a seeing good results in a very dry year.
He started cutting 80ha of Tower on Friday 7 July, which is averaging 7.5t/ha and coming into the barn at a moisture of 13.5% with a good specific weight of 70kg/hl.
Watch Euston Estate’s winter barley harvest in action below.
“In this season, when April was so dry, this is a good yield. April is a make or break month on this farm, if April is wet then you are fine if not then you can struggle,” he says.
This is the reason no spring cereals are grown on this light land estate with winter wheat and winter barley being able to put down roots in the winter to cope with a dry spring.
As well as 680ha of winter wheat and barley, the estate grows 520ha of vegetables, 280ha of sugar beet and 400ha of maize.
Once the Tower winter barley is finished, Mr Hawthorne has 250ha of a seed crop of the variety Volume to cut.
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