This week’s dry weather is making for a pleasant end to harvest 2014, which has ranged from beautifully simple to a desperate struggle, depending on location.
According to the latest HGCA / ADAS report, farmers were now into the final 5% of harvest, after having combined more than 300,000ha in the week to 9 September.
“The steady progress over the past two to three weeks brings the tail end of harvest in line with the five-year average,” said the report.
“Wheat yields remain above average and overall quality is good, although lower Hagberg Falling Numbers and specific weights have been reported in the past week, as more group three and four varieties were sampled.”
Fortunately, Iain Green bought a second four-wheel drive combine to help with harvest at Corskie Farm, Garmouth, Morayshire, enabling him to get his spring barley in before it spoiled.
“It’s been the worst harvest I can remember,” he said. “We had 104mm of rain in 14 hours after Hurricane Bertha and have had 229mm over the past four weeks, so ground conditions are very wet – it’s a real mess.
“Having said that, yields have been tremendous, and all the spring barley we cut has been accepted for malting, which is a bonus.”
Farmers in the area still had about 20% of their crops left to cut, said Mr Green. “Our oats are flat, and remaining crops look pretty weathered – some people have abandoned them because of the wet ground conditions.”
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However, further south, Carl Tuer had finished harvest particularly early at Rock Farms, Alnwick, Northumberland, putting the combine to bed on Saturday.
“It dragged on a bit at the end, because it was misty and damp – so it’s good to be finished,” he said.
First wheats on the whole were very good at 10.8-11.6t/ha, although one block of slug-damaged Cassius let the side down, at 8.8t/ha.
“The surprising thing was the second wheats, which did really well. Viscount on two different farms yielded 10.1t/ha and 10.85t, with Leeds at 10.7t/ha,” added Mr Tuer.
Andrew Jackson had also had a reasonable harvest at Pink Pig Farm, Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, and was now busy keeping slugs off the recently-emerged oilseed rape.
“We’ve been over with slug pellets three times so far, but it’s up and away and we’ve applied the post-emergence spray,” he said.
This year the Excalibur, PX109 and Troy averaged 3.91t/ha. “That’s alright, but I thought they were going to be better. I think they got too thick because there wasn’t much pigeon or slug damage last autumn.”
Over in Monmouth, Colin Philliphs finished combining spring beans at Dairy Farm, Raglan, Monmouth, yesterday (10 September), bringing harvest 2014 for him to a close.
“It was the best crop of spring beans we’ve ever had,” he said. “They were Fuego and yielded close to 7.4t/ha according the combine scales. I think it’s been the simplest harvest we’ve had in a number of years.”