Had it not been for catchy weather James Wray might have finished combining at Dungiven earlier this week. But, with his own and a neighbour’s machine, he hoped to be done by the end of it.

Alchemy and Einstein winter wheat output was slightly lower than last year, at 8.6t/ha (3.5t/acre) and 8t/ha (3.25t/acre), respectively, and specific weights were borderline for feed.

“I don’t think Northern Ireland was as affected as much by drought as elsewhere,” said Mr Wray.

On the plus side 57ha (140 acres) of early sown Westminster spring barley, which clearly thrived in the unusual season, was doing well at 7.4t/ha (3t/acre).

“We reckon 2.7t/acre is a good crop and our average is about 2.5.”

January-drilled Belvoir spring wheat off reclaimed land also impressed, yielding close to Alchemy alongside.

“Although overall we are slightly down on yield, with prices as they are I can’t say I’m disappointed.

“Straw yields are very good, with winter wheat doing over 10 round bales per acre, and there’s a good market for it at £10-£12 a bale for wheat and £12-£14 for barley.

“We’ve also just sold a lorry load of wheat for £180/t.”

Initial grain moistures were 21%, but the last wheat came in at 17%, and because of the on–offharvest his 12t Opico batch drier had easily kept pace.

The extra 2000t of storage that came with the recently acquired reclaimed land also eased operations.

“For the first time it means we can finish the harvest before looking to sell grain to make room for potato storage. In previous years we’ve had to clear all the grain off the farm by mid-October.”

Other regions

In Berkshire, Nigel Horne’s Wizard winter beans had disappointed at only 4.25t/ha (1.7t/acre), which he blamed on the dull summer. But in Scotland, where John Hutcheson hoped to tackle 84ha (210 acres) of Firth spring oats this week, wheat yields had remained good.

However, both men were waiting for Fuego spring beans to ripen.

“It could be a fortnight before we even get to Roundup them,” said Mr Hutcheson.

James Wray and combine harvester

Jame Wray expected the combined 10.4m (34ft) cut of his and his neighbour’s machines would complete his harvest week.