Growers have cut considerable amounts of milling wheat over the past week, despite heavy showers, and quality looks promising.
However, yields and protein contents were extremely variable, and some varieties were already showing signs of rain damage, said traders. In East Anglia, farmers were combining at up to 20% moisture simply to get the crops in, said Philip Darke, store manager at Camgrain.
As of Tuesday (9 August), the store had taken in 150,000t of wheat, with yields varying from 5.5t to 10t/ha (2.2-4t/acre), depending on soil type and rainfall. “In East Anglia farmers will be very happy if they can average 8t/ha (3.2t/acre).”
Quality was good, with very heavy bushel weights, but variable protein contents, said Mr Darke. “Hagbergs are surprisingly low on group 4 varieties, down to 100, so that’s something to watch.”
Spring barley harvest was very protracted due to the amount of secondary growth, and yields were as bad as expected at about 2.5t/ha (1t/acre). Nitrogen contents were also high at between 1.9% and 2.1%, he added.
The rain had already impacted on bushelweights in wheat, which could affect yields, warned Andrew Dewing at Dewing Grain. “Now is a critical time – a lot of farmers will wait, to try and avoid a drying charge, but they will lose more money by dropping bushelweights – they could easily lose 10% in yield.”
Overall, wheat yields were about 5-10% below average, although some on light land were down by 20%. “In this area about 10% of the wheat has been cut, and it’s good quality. If that can be segregated we can compete on a number of new export markets.”
In Kent, wheat yields ranged from 6t/ha to over 11t/ha (2.4-4.5t/acre), said Tim Porter, grain trader at GH Grain. Quality of Solstice and Gallant cut before the rain had been excellent, with protein contents averaging 13-13.5%, bushel weights of 82-83kg/hl and Hagbergs at 300-400.
But protein contents in Dorset were on the low side at about 12%, as yields had been so good, said Nick Matthews, trading director at Wessex Grain. “Most of the Group One varieties are cut now, and we’ve had very good yields – a number of people are doing 8.5-10.5t/ha (3.4-4.3t/acre).
“We’re now getting some feed wheat in – we had some JB Diego which did 12t/ha (4.9t/acre). When we really get into the wheat we’re going to see some huge yields down here, as long as the weather holds.”