Farmers are combining as quickly as possible ahead of forecast unsettled weather this week, with some already rained off today (2 August).
Contractor Keith Snowball was combining oilseed rape at 11% moisture near Brandsby, Yorkshire, where OSR and winter barley harvest was about halfway through.
“It’s frustrating – things are just getting going, and we really need some fine weather.”
Further north, heavy rain had brought harvest to a halt at Corskie Farm, Garmouth, Morayshire, where Iain Green had finished cutting winter barley.
“We started on 23 July and it’s all baled up. Now we’ve moved to another farm, where the barley is just ready, but it’s pouring.”
However, in central and southern England, farmers were faring better.
In Cambridgeshire, Edd Banks sewed up his oilseed rape harvest quickly on Monday evening, allowing him to start cutting wheat.
Oilseed rape yields were better than expected, and Gallant second wheat looked promising, with yields in excess of 8t/ha (3.2t/acres).
Harvest was also speeding along at Peter Fairs’ farms near Great Tey, Colchester, Essex, with 2500t of wheat, 1000t of oilseed rape and 200t of peas now cut.
“I don’t think we’ve been this far ahead for quite a few years,” he said. “We’re going as fast as we can while the weather holds.”
In Hampshire, Nick Rowsell made a start on spring barley at West Stoke Farm, Winchester, yesterday, although the remainder was still green.
The Concerto, grown on light land, yielded 6.8t/ha (2.75t/acre). “It will be a bit below what we had hoped for, but considering the year I was quite pleased.”
Winter wheat was underway at Park Farm, Hanbury, Worcestershire, but Roger Brian was disappointed with the results.
“It’s not very good – it’s a second wheat and the dry weather didn’t help things.” So far the Scout had yielded 6.9-7.4t/ha (2.8-3t/acre). “But the first wheats don’t look too bad.”
In Devon, a fine spell of dry weather allowed Steve Lee to soar through his 80ha (200 acres) of oilseed rape in just three days.
Harvest from his base in Black Dog, near Crediton, began four days earlier this year – on 26 July – and the quality and yields were well above last year’s average, he said.