Harvest round-up: A year of contrasts - Farmers Weekly

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Harvest round-up: A year of contrasts

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.”

See also: All the news, videos and harvest resources on our Harvest Highlights page.

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.”

Harvest round-up: A year of contrasts

Harvest 2013 is emerging to be one of contrasts, with some diabolical yields and others that have been a very pleasant surprise.

In Dundee, Ian Moncrieff was making good progress with the winter barley harvest at Berry Hill Farm, and was pleased with slightly better than average yields.

“We got 325t from 105 acres, which is slightly above average – and the bushel weight was 62kg/hl at 16.5% moisture, so that will increase a bit with drying,” he said.

Wheat and oilseed rape also looked very well. “I think that winter barley will definitely be the worst crop here.”

At the opposite end of the UK, Jonathan Tipples had had a terrible harvest at Reed Court Farm, Marden, Kent, with wheat and rapeseed yielding as badly as expected.

“The oilseed rape looked terrible all year, and even if you take out the bits that we abandoned, it’s still only done 2.5t/ha,” he said. “It’s been terribly patchy – the pigeons wouldn’t leave it alone.”

Second wheat Panorama hadn’t done much better. “We mauled it into terrible seedbeds in the autumn, and probably shouldn’t have done it – it’s been pretty shocking.”

Further west, spring barley yields were quite pleasing at Manor Farm, Radstock, Somerset, but James Francis was less impressed with his winter barley results.

“The winter barley is on wet ground and just sat in water over the winter,” he said. “As a result, it’s only yielded 5.6t/ha.”

Propino spring barley had yielded a reasonable 6.2t/ha, but oilseed rape was very mixed. “I’m amazed by how it’s changed since the spring, but even so, if it averages 2.5t/ha we’ll be happy.”

Down the road near Redhill, Bristol, Daniel Harding had just started combining oilseed rape before being almost immediately rained off.

So far he had cut 38ha of winter barley and 240ha of spring barley, which all yielded around the 7.4t/ha mark.

“I was hoping for a bit more than that off the winter barley, but it was just saturated over the winter.”

As a result, he had drilled a lot more spring barley, with maize also sown on the arable unit.

“It’s really messed up our cropping plans – our rotations are completely out of sync and will take a good two years to get back again.”

In Lincolnshire, Mark Tinsley had cut just over 40ha of Cordiale for seed at Hurn Hall Farm, Holbeach, and was happy with the results.

“It’s yielding about 10t/ha according to the combine – I think it should be a good average yield, with good specific weight,” he said.

However, the remaining two-thirds of the wheat was not quite fit, so combining was now on hold for a few days.

“A break of two or three days’ rain won’t worry us – I don’t think I’ve ever said that before during harvest.”

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