A relatively settled weekend has seen combines out in force across the country, with a few more growers making a start on wheat today (1 August).
In Kent, Robert Spencer started combining winter wheat at Lower Garrington Farm, Canterbury, this morning; three days earlier than last year.
“It’s too early to tell how the wheat is yielding, but the bushelweight is good and the sample looks fantastic.”
Ben Hargreaves also started combining Cordiale wheat this morning at Low Farm, Thornton Curtis, Lincolnshire, having finished his oilseed rape.
“The wheat is three or four days earlier than normal but it looks an okay crop and is coming in at 14% moisture.”
Further west, Richard Solari was attempting to combine winter wheat at Heath House Farm, Beckbury, Shropshire, but was being thwarted by wet weather.
“We keep getting tiny bits of drizzle; it’s very frustrating.”
He was having to pick and choose the Oakley to cut, as much of it was not quite ripe. “We’ve been into and out of three fields now.”
Rain was also causing problems in Donegal, Ireland, where farmers had cut about 20% of their winter barley, said contractor Stevie Robb. “Normally we would be further on than that.
“The grain is ripe but the straw is very green, which makes for slow combining, and means it has to lie in the field for days before we can get it baled up. There’s a real backlog of straw building up.”
But harvest was progressing well at J.V. Farming Ltd, Martinsdown, Dorchester, Dorset, with the combine averaging 50ha (124 acres) a day.
Operations manager Tim Merry said he had cut 950t of oilseed rape in five days last week, before being rained off on Saturday.
Yields had varied widely, from 3t to 5t/ha (1.2-2t/acre). “There doesn’t seem to be any real reason for it – it’s quite bizarre,” he said.
In France, harvest was back underway, and with drier weather forecast this week combines should make rapid progress in the coming days.
“Although it is still early to draw conclusions about the 2011 harvest, it seems that the latest rains haven’t really degraded the quality,” said a report by analyst Agritel.