South Essex grower Ed Ford is among the first to start his oilseed rape harvest this year, with early figures indicating a 3.5t/ha average yield.

Yesterday Mr Ford, from Brentwood, started combining 40ha of hybrid variety Expower, which was desiccated about three weeks ago. 

He said: “We sprayed off quite early this year but I’d say we are about a week behind actually harvesting compared with the last two years.”

Combine harvester and tractor in field of oilseed rape

Combines are rolling into oilseed rape in Brentwood, Essex, already. ©Ed Ford

This year Mr Ford grew 100ha of the hybrid oilseed rape alongside conventional variety Cabernet.

He says some of the Cabernet isn’t far behind, after he desiccated 80ha 10 days ago.

See also: The latest harvest 2015 coverage

“It’s early days still but it has been going well so far. We are currently in our worst fields of oilseed rape.

“These are the fields that suffered quite badly with pigeon damage and the stalks are very thin, so we weren’t expecting very good yields anyway.”

Rapeseed being loaded into a trailer

Filler ‘er up: Rapeseed being loaded into a trailer in Essex yesterday. ©Ed Ford

As harvest commenced yesterday moisture levels were at 8.9%. The rapeseed is destined to go to crusher ADM.

He adds: “We don’t have any barley here but I’ve seen a few trailers with straw from neighbouring farms and that looks good.

“We’re among the earliest in this area to start; I think most growers are saying they’ll be starting either this weekend or next week.”

Last week, Berkshire grower Colin Rayner made a start on his rapeseed harvest. Meanwhile, some growers in Hampshire began their harvest yesterday afternoon.