Harvest is between 70% and 80% complete in the South West, with farmers making good progress over the past five days.
“There is an expectation that the weather will break again after the weekend, so everyone is going like the clappers,” said Ian Eastwood, marketing manager at West Country Grain.
“Quality hasn’t improved much – the more aggressive drying and cleaning systems are improving samples, but they are still only in the high 60 bushel weights at best.
“Most farmers have resigned themselves to being 20% down on wheat yield, but I think it’s more like 30%, and some are as much as 50% down.”
South West mills were aligning their intake specifications to suit the lower quality crop, he added. “It’s still evolving, but I think we’ll find a balance that everyone is reasonably happy with.
“The name of the game is to know exactly what you’ve got and market it accordingly – don’t just put it on a lorry and hope for the best.”
Oat yields were 10-20% below average, but quality was just about okay, said Mr Eastwood. “We’ve shifted a few loads to market and they seem to have gone in alright.”
Spring barley yields were also below normal, at 5-6.2t/ha, but quality was also reasonable, he added.
“In any other year it might make malting, but the premiums aren’t great, and the feed base is particularly high, so people aren’t bothering.”
North Devon had been particularly badly hit by low bushel weights, while South East Cornwall was suffering from some sprouting. “It’s a real mixed bag.
“Some of the older varieties have stood up quite well – Alchemy and Claire seem to have done well, as do some of the second wheats.”
Cannington Grain was starting to intake winter beans, and so far they did not look very special, said Mr Eastwood.
“They are diseased and shrivelled and dark – it looks like a mixed sample even though it’s come from one farm; very much like the wheat.”
Many farmers who had finished combining were now helping neighbours, and most should be finished by Sunday (9 September).
“If it stays dry we’ll see everyone done in the next five to seven days. Samples were coming in at 18-19% moisture earlier in the week, and they’re down to 15% now once the dew has lifted.”