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Harvest Roundup: Rain causes further delays

Another wet weekend has further hampered efforts to gather remaining crops in Scotland and parts of England and Wales.


What had looked to be a promising harvest had turned out to be the worst ever for John Hutcheson at Leckerstone Farm, Dunfermline, Fife, with some crops likely to be abandoned.

“It’s not going well at all – it’s even worse than 2008,” he said.

“It’s been a real struggle – we’ve cut no wheat under 20% moisture, and plenty at 25% or higher, which causes all sorts of problems with the machinery.”

The wet harvest had knocked Hagberg numbers in wheat, but farmers in Yorkshire had virtually finished harvest, according to David Padgett at Argrain.

“It’s all done apart from a few spring beans,” he said.

“The Hagbergs in the later cut wheat have gone, but the specific weights have been alright, and yields have been good on heavy bodied soil around the Vale of York.”

In Tyne & Wear, Geoff Alderslade was getting on well with drilling at West Fellgate Farm, Wardley, having finished a very variable harvest.

Early wheats yielded close to 10t/ha (4t/acre), with later drilled crops down to 6.2t/ha (2.5t/acre).

“We’ve got all the oilseed rape and first wheats drilled, plus some second wheats – and we’re now preparing the ground for barley,” he said.

In Oxfordshire, the harvest at Leadenporch Farm, Dedington, was better than farm manager Lionel Wells could ever have expected.

First, second and continuous wheats averaged 9.6t/ha (3.9t/acre) across the whole farm.

“The first wheats were way better than the second wheats – but the second wheats yielded the same as we would normally expect from the first wheats, so we can’t complain.”

On the international scene, Strategie Grains had cut its estimate of EU soft wheat production by 200,000t, to 129m tonnes, with milling wheat quality also down.

“Heavy rain has affected both the quality and quantity of crops in Germany, Poland, Scandinavia and the Baltic States, resulting in a 3.1m tonne drop in the estimate for milling wheat production, to 83.5m tonnes,” said David Sheppard, managing director at Gleadell Agriculture.

View Harvest Highlights Gallery

Harvest roundup: Rain causes further delays

Rain continues to disrupt harvest across the country, with many farmers unable to get to the last of their crops, even in the South.


In Berkshire, Jonathan Holland was close to finishing wheat at Littlecote Farmcare, Hungerford, but was being frustrated by ongoing showers.

“It’s a case of moving a combine 15 miles one way to do an hour or so of combining, while the other crop dries out.

“But everything is above budget, so I can’t really moan, considering the dry spring and wet summer we’ve had.”

Harvest had gone well at Ashby Ledger Farms, Rugby, Warwickshire, where manager Joe Scott had finished combining and drilling oilseed rape.

“I would say yields are above average, although we haven’t calculated the final results,” he said.

However, wheat yields were massively down at Pound Farm, Tuddenham, Norfolk, where Simon Dann finished harvest on Saturday (3 September).

“I share a combine with two neighbours and we probably averaged 6.9t/ha (2.8t/acre), which is considerably below the five-year average, but as good as we could have expected, given the dry spring.”

Further north, Catherine Thompson had almost finished harvest at Holme House, Holme on Spalding Moor, Yorkshire, with just 14ha (35 acres) of wheat left to cut.

“We haven’t really had a good run at anything; we’ve gone from being early to almost running late,” she said.

“Quite a lot of people finished on Saturday, but we’re short on storage now, which is a good sign – we need to move something before we can cut any more.”

Yields had also been good at Merton Estates, St Boswells, Kelso, where Charlie Stewart was desperate for some dry weather.

So far, he had cut about 55% of his wheat, having finished winter barley and oilseed rape.

“We’re getting some fairly good yields on wheat, but there is a lot that is still in the field. We’d be better if it stopped raining.”

Elsewhere, pea yields had been remarkably good this year, but beans suffered badly in the drought, said the British Edible Pulse Association (BEPA).

“Peas have ridden the spring drought very well in most areas, with yields averaging 4.5-5t/ha (1.8-2t/acre),” said president Peter Smith.

“But beans have been very variable, with yields from 2-7t/ha (0.8-2.8t/acre) depending on rainfall, with little difference between winters and springs.”

View Harvest Highlights Gallery

Harvest roundup: Rain causes further delays

Farmers in Scotland and the north of England continue to be frustrated by wet weather, with combines dodging the showers elsewhere.


In Morayshire, torrential rain had brought harvest to a halt again at Moray Estates, Elgin, where Martin Bridges had been unable to combine properly for almost a fortnight.

“We had 42mm at the weekend, and 24mm yesterday (10 August); the ground is really wet now, so I don’t know what’s going to happen when we do get back combining,” he said.

Derek Lamplough hadn’t even started harvest at Manor Farm, Scarborough, Yorkshire, with two inches of rain falling over the past week.

“It’s just rain after rain – it gets a bit dry – and then it rains again,” he said.

It was a similar picture at West Fellgate Farm, Wardley, Tyne & Wear, where Geoff Alderslade was waiting to combine winter wheat.

“We have had a lot of rain – it just seems to be never-ending,” he said. However, he had managed to finish his oilseed rape, with yields proving better than expected.

Further South, Nick Doig was very pleased with wheat yields at High House Farm, Thetford, Norfolk, where he hoped to be combining again this evening.

“The Scout did very well, with high bushelweights and good quality, on some quite strong land,” he said.

Claire performed well after linseed, but was a bit disappointing after winter oats, while Diego, after sugar beet on a neighbouring farm, excelled at 11.1t/ha (4.5t/acre).

Harvest was also going well at Robert Law’s Thrift Farm, Royston, Hertfordshire, although yields were generally below average.

Consort wheat, grown on the lightest land, averaged 7.6t/ha (3t/acre) as a first wheat, with Ambrosia and Istrabraq on better land yielding 9.6t/ha (3.9t/acre) and 9.3t/ha (3.8t/acre), respectively.

Globally, wheat production was likely to be 24m tonnes higher than last year, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s latest report.

It increased its forecast to 672m tonnes – 9.7m tonnes higher than last month’s estimate, with larger than expected crops in the Former Soviet Union, India, China and the EU.

View Harvest Highlights Gallery

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