The UK has suffered one of the coldest and wettest Augusts for a number of years, but a more promising forecast this week could herald the end of harvest for many farmers.
In Northumberland, harvest remained exceptionally early at Sentry Farming’s Blagdon and Hartley Main Farms, Whitley Bay, with 75% of the wheat now cut.
“We’ve got 49ha left of 648ha of wheat, which is a record for this time of year,” said farm manager Andrew Crewdson. “We don’t normally start combining wheat until September.”
Further north, Richard Stephen was also getting on well with harvest at Muirton of Barra, Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, with most of his spring barley in the barn.
“It’s been wet over the weekend, but if it dries up we hope to finish harvest this week (w/c 1 September),” he said.
Yields had been good, although quality of the Concerto spring barley was now starting to suffer after the wet weather.
“It’s now showing some skinning so it’s not suitable for malting, but we have more than filled our contract so it may well have been feed barley anyway,” he added.
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Provisional results from the AHDB/HGCA’s annual Cereal Quality Survey showed that wheat quality was better than last year, although barley quality had slipped slightly.
From the 20,683 wheat samples analysed by 19 August, specific weights and Hagbergs were above average, but protein content was lower than in recent years.
“Although the lower protein content is not ideal, it can be potentially corrected, at a cost, by adding gluten or blending with imported wheat to meet domestic requirements,” said the report.
In Hampshire, Alan Cook had almost finished harvest at Windwhistle Farm, Romsey, Hampshire, with just a little linseed left to cut.
“We’ve cut 40ha so far and it looks to be about average,” he said. However, a drizzly start today meant the combine would not be out again in a hurry.
“One forecast says it’s going to be hot and dry this week, which is perfect for cutting linseed – but another says it’s going to be misty and drizzly, in which case we won’t be getting on at all.”
In Wales, Glynn Jones had got just 28ha left to cut at Plas-yr-Esgov, St.Asaph, but rain over the weekend and today was proving frustrating.
“We thought we’d be finished by now but the past two weeks have been a real struggle,” he said. “We haven’t combined properly for 10 days; instead we’ve just been pinching bits here and there.”
However, Mr Jones had managed to cut the wheat which had gone flat, so the remaining fields were still standing. “We’ve got 18ha of wheat to get and the rest is spring barley.”