Harvest roundup: Making the most of the weather - Farmers Weekly

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Harvest roundup: Making the most of the weather

Farmers are making the most of more settled weather across much of the country, although some areas remain cloudy and damp.

At Priors Farm, Newbury, Berkshire, harvest and fieldwork was at full speed, with combining, baling and drilling all underway.

George Brown had not cut wheat for a couple of weeks, moving instead into Tipple spring barley, which was yielding just under 7.4t/ha (3t/acre).

“It’s got perfect germination and is 1.7% nitrogen, so that’s met expectations.”

In Lincolnshire, Edward Whitfield was combining Fuego spring beans today (1 September) at Gibbs Farm, Spalding, and was very pleased with yields.

“On the lighter land they were averaging 4.2t/ha (1.7t/acre), but we’ve just moved onto the better bodied land and they’re doing 7.4t/ha (3t/acre), which is very good.”

Further north, Richard Beachell had finished harvest at Field House Farm, Bainton, Humberside, with somewhat mixed results.

“The second wheats were slightly below average; first wheats did really well on heavy land, but were a bit disappointing on lighter land.

“We have a yield mapper on the combine, and there’s a wide variation over the farm, which is interesting, because in a normal year our fields are fairly even.”

But in Scotland, damp conditions continued to frustrate harvest efforts.

“It’s desperate – we’ve had high pressure all week, but it’s just drizzle and cloud, with no wind at all,” said Frank Thomson at Burnside of Tynet, Clochan, Morayshire.

“The barley is just sitting there and we’re not even a third of the way through.”

In the week to Tuesday, farmers harvested just 250,000ha (617,500 acres), less than half of the usual average, according to the HGCA.

Harvest progress was now on par with normal, although in Scotland it was running late.

“Around 75% of the total combinable crop area is now harvested,” said the report.

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Harvest roundup: Making the most of the weather

Better weather has enabled farmers to combine again today (22 August), with yields continuing to fluctuate wildly.

In Kent, Martin Boulden was celebrating some outstanding yields on Romney Marsh, with a new contender for a record wheat yield. 

First wheat Claire averaged over 10t/ha (4t/acre) at Court Lodge, Aldington, Kent, with one 3.77ha (9.3-acre) field coming off the combine at 15.05t/ha (6t/acre).

It all made the soft milling grade, at 13% protein, 300 Hagberg and over 80kg/hl.

However, wheat yields had been below average at New Farm, Elsworth, Bedfordshire, where Ted Davison had finished harvest.

Oakley, which would be replaced by Santiago this year, topped the rankings at 10-11t/ha (4-4.5t/acre), with spring wheat Paragon coming off at 7t/ha (2.8t/acre).

In Norfolk, James Murrell had finished harvest at Willow Farm, South Burlingham, having put in a few late nights combining.

“The weather has been so unsettled that we got to the point where we just bit the bullet and got it in the barn. Another wet week would have caused yield losses.”

His Charmay spring barley looked very thin, but yielded a surprising 4t/ha (1.6t/acre). “I thought we were only going to get 2.5t/ha (1t/acre).”

Further north, Caley Sackur was combining wheat at Lodge Farm, Tibthorpe, Yorkshire, ahead of forecast rain later this week.

“I think we’ve only got today and tomorrow to get on, but we’re over halfway through the wheat now,” he said.

Cordiale second wheat was badly affected by the drought, and yielded a disappointing 6.2t/ha (2.5t/acre).

But the first wheat, Oakley, was running well, at 8.6-9.9t/ha (3.5-4t/acre).

Colin Philliphs was also combining wheat today at Dairy Farm, Penhros, Monmouth, with only 24ha (60 acres) left to do.

“We were stop-start over the weekend but it’s come down to 15% moisture now, and we’re onto the last leg.

“The wheat yields have been very good, and the oilseed rape was exceptional – it was a dream rapeseed harvest,” he said.

In Germany, farmers still had 20% of their wheat crop to harvest, with rain delays raising further concerns about quality downgrades, said HGCA.

Those in the key exporting regions of Northern Germany had been worst affected, with about 60% of the crop still to cut.

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