Wheat harvest has started two weeks ahead of normal and early results are promising, according to John Spackman, who works for the 240ha (600acre) Cousins Partnership near Braintree in Essex.

Since starting Robigus on Tuesday (25 July), around 220tonnes has come off 25ha (61acres), which equates to an average yield of about 8.8t/ha (3.5t/acre). Moisture contents have been relatively low at 11.5-14%.

“We don’t normally start wheat until the 5-10 August, so it’s about two weeks early at least. Crops were still green last week and have just burnt off in the heat. There are some patches along tramlines and under hedges and trees that are still a bit green.”

But despite crops dying off quickly, grain size looks good, he said. “It’s surprising the grain’s not shrivelled – some are a bit smaller than normal, but a lot is big, bold grain.”

The farm’s Claas Dominator 204 with 17ft header is averaging about 12t/hour and Mr Spackman reckons that if the rain holds off, wheat could be finished within the next week. “We had one or two spots yesterday [26 July], but the forecast doesn’t look good.”

Alongside 15ha (30acres) of winter barley – which did just over 7.4t/ha (3t/acre) – beans and linseed are also grown on the farm, he noted. “The beans were cultivated in rather than ploughed and look good – they’re just starting to turn.”

  • Crop: Winter wheat
  • Variety: Robigus
  • Area: 25ha
  • Yield: 8.8t/ha
  • Moisture: 11.5-14%