Wheat quality remains remarkably decent in the main wheat growing areas in the middle and east of the country, but further west and north it is starting to deteriorate, according to the grain trade on Tuesday [26 August].

Reasonable Bank Holiday weekend weather enabled many farmers to finally push on with combining, but wet ground and further showers meant some crops were beginning to suffer.

“Where most of the wheat is grown quality is pretty good,” Simon Ingle of Grainfarmers said. “The bulk of the wet weather has been in the west and Hagbergs there are deteriorating.” Some samples had tested at below 100 Hagberg in that region, although results that low were still sporadic, he said.

Mr Ingle reckoned harvest was about 50-60% complete in East Anglia, and 70% done in Kent, but only about 20% through further west, as Farmers Weekly went to press. “If the drier weather stays until the weekend I think a lot of farmers will get themselves squared up in the east.”

Cobbald wheat

Farmer Focus contributor Richard Cobbald anxiously inspecting his Hereward milling wheat.
Generally quality in the east and midlands remains OK, says the grain trade

Intakes at the Weald Granary store in Kent had averaged 19% moisture so far, the highest in memory, said manager John Smith. “Our dryers are flat out, they haven’t stopped for three weeks.”

Yields had been excellent, and quality was holding up incredibly well, although about half the wheat was below 12% protein. “We have not seen any drop-off in Hagberg,” he said.

Martin Boulden was pleased with milling wheat yields at Court Lodge Farm, Aldington, Kent, averaging 8-9.5t/ha (3.2-3.8t/acre). Sample results had been good, and the remaining 121ha (300 acres) of Claire looked fine. “I don’t think it’s been affected by the weather. We haven’t had too much rain, it’s just been a bit damp,” he said.

But in Yorkshire David Hinchliffe had recorded 120mm of rain in the first 26 days of August, with 2in of that falling last week. Despite this, quality was still good, and yields had been excellent, at 10-12t/ha (4-4.9t/acre).

“There’s a lot of wheat to cut in our part of Yorkshire. I don’t think many people will finish this week,” he said. On average, harvest was about 60% complete in the area, with a third of the winter wheat now cut, he estimated.

Cornwall had been even more badly affected by the rain, with Martin Howlett not able to get on combining for nearly a month and winter barley chitting in the field. “There’s a very serious danger that the entire crop will be lost,” he said. “It was all looking so good before the rain – you could say it’s the best harvest we’ve never had.”