Harvest round-up: Still plugging away - Farmers Weekly

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Harvest round-up: Still plugging away

Good weather across much of the UK has enabled farmers to clear up the remnants of harvest in many places – although there still remains a considerable amount to do.

In Scotland, farmers in Aberdeenshire still had about 15% of their spring barley left to cut, but were very pleased with yields and quality, according to Gordon Booth at Aberdeen Grain.

“Most of it is Concerto and it’s held up well to the weather, although it has lodged in places – so fingers crossed the final tranche will be okay,” he said.

“Conditions underfoot are another concern now – it’s been wet since last Thursday and it’s overcast this week – it feels like the beginning of October not September.”

Further south, Guy Shelby had almost finished harvest at Benningholme Grange, Beverley, East Yorkshire, but was very disappointed with how it had gone.

“The weather has put a massive downer on it all,” he said. “Hurricane Bertha hammered the wheat down so that we lost a lot of heads on the floor, and yields in general are down after we had six inches of rain in May.

“Septoria has just crucified the crops. We didn’t make one application of fungicide when there wasn’t water standing in the tramlines.”

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

In Herefordshire, Philip Gorringe was making good progress with harvest at Lower Blakemere Farm, Blakemere, Herefordshire, after a very late start.

“I’m in the last block of wheat today (8 September) and have just one more field of very late-drilled winter barley to do, which is a bit of a salvage job,” he said.

Having finished combining in October last year, Mr Gorringe had struggled to get this year’s crops drilled, and ended up sowing the Cassia winter barley in March.

“We cut one field last week, which yielded 7.4t/ha,” he said. “But this field, planted a week later, didn’t vernalise properly and will probably not do 1.2t/ha.”

Across in the East Midlands, wheat quality had held up well following the wet August, although ergot had been a problem, according to Guy Smith at Dalmark Grain.

“We’re still taking in dribs and drabs of wheat, as well as some beans – and we haven’t noticed any real decrease in Hagbergs or bushel weights,” he said.

But protein contents were averaging just over 12%, putting a lot of Group One varieties into the lower quality milling bracket.

In Berkshire, harvest had finally finished at Priors Farm, Newbury, Berkshire, and it had not been as bad as Richard Brown had expected.

“We finished contract combining at Sheepdrove, Lambourn, on Saturday and finished our own harvest yesterday,” he said.

This year the family partnership had cut more than 668ha, with Mr Brown doing 628ha of that himself. “That’s not bad for a geriatric. It hasn’t been a particularly special harvest, but it hasn’t been a disaster either.”

Harvest round-up: Still plugging away

Harvest may be a distant memory for many farmers, but there are still plenty of crops to cut in Scotland and other parts of the country.

In Morayshire, Hamish Forbes still had a third of his harvest to gather at Lockdhu Farm, Nairn, with wet conditions making for slow progress.

“We were combining yesterday (1 October) for the first time in 10 days – it’s getting really quite serious,” he said.

“Things haven’t been good at all; weather-wise we’ve been completely stuck.”

Further south, Carl Tuer was making excellent progress at Rock Farms, Alnwick, Northumberland, having finished harvest and almost completed the drilling.

“We’ve got friends all over the country and we were the second to finish combining, on 11 September – we seem to be miles ahead of everyone else,” he said.

However, other farmers in the area had not been as fortunate, with quite a bit still to combine in the borders, he added.

In Shropshire, harvest was just about finished, although farmers still had the odd fields of spring oats and rapeseed to cut, said David Roberts at Westbury-based merchant G.O. Davies.

“Wheat quality is very variable, and the whole job is sensationally difficult,” he added.

“We’ve got wheat that’s anything from 50kg/hl upwards, and it’s incredibly variable even within a pile – I’ve never known anything like it.”

Harvest was also nearly finished in the West Country, with just the odd field of beans left to combine.

“In general, peas and beans have done quite well, although there have been one or two horror stories,” said Ian Eastwood, marketing director at West Country Grain.

Spring barley had also performed reasonably well, although yields were slightly down, he added.

Pulse yields had all come in below average, according to preliminary trial results from PGRO.

Initial data to 1 October put untreated spring bean yields at 4.01t/ha – 0.08t/ha below the five-year average.

Winter beans came in at 3.51t/ha – 0.87t/ha below average, with combining peas down by 0.93t/ha, to 4.06t/ha.

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