Harvest 2014 is turning out to be a year of complete contrasts, with record yields and early finishes pitched alongside bitter disappointment and torrential rain.
In Norfolk, Barry Garner had had a fantastic harvest at Shrubbery Farm, Carleton Rode, Norfolk, having finished combining on Saturday (16 August).
“It’s been awesome – I’ve waited 30 years for a harvest like this,” he said. “Prices are absolutely rubbish, but if you judge a harvest by yield and quality then this is the best for 30 years.”
In Wiltshire, Tim Carson was also celebrating record wheat yields at Alton Barnes, Devizes. However, rain had brought combining to a standstill once again, with about 30% of the harvest still to do.
“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “Everything is ready now and the forecast isn’t very good. It will start spoiling if we can’t get it soon; the wheat is probably only a week away from sprouting.”
Harvest was still slightly ahead of normal in the South West, despite frequent showers hampering progress over the past week or two.
According to Ian Eastwood, marketing manager at West Country Grain, Cannington Grainstore had taken in 65-70% of its total tonnage, with Devon Grain about 55% through.
“Wheat quality is still very pleasing and the oats are bright, with good bushel weights all round,” he said. “So the wet weather hasn’t done any damage so far.”
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In Yorkshire, Keith Snowball had been extremely lucky with the weather at High Farm, Brandsby, having combined all weekend while showers skirted around him.
“We’re cutting Claire wheat at 16% moisture today – it’s raining 190º around us but is still dry here,” he said.
Yields; while not exceptional, had been good, with the Claire yielding 9.4t/ha and all wheats averaging over 8.6t/ha.
But further north Martin Bridges was having a dreadful harvest at Moray Estates, Elgin, Morayshire, with torrential rain damaging crops and making the ground too wet to travel on.
“It’s absolutely awful,” he said. “On the Sunday following Hurricane Bertha I reckon we had four inches of rain in 12 hours, and we’ve had thundery showers ever since.”
Another 8mm of rain fell yesterday afternoon, and the forecast showed little sign of let up. “Some people’s crops have gone really flat. Ours hasn’t yet, but it’s really tangled and mangled.”