17 November 2000

Barely one day of fine weather to do the job

PERSISTENT rain delayed Cornish contractor Graham Couch by two weeks before he started harvesting 162ha (400 acres) of maize in mid-October, leaving 28ha (70 acres) still to be clamped.

"Maize harvesting has been very trying this year and there has barely been a day of fine weather throughout a whole week to crack on with the job," says Mr Couch, who operates over a 25-mile radius around his base near Bodmin. "A number of farmers in our area have suffered badly due to the heavy rain and it will probably put us back by about three weeks overall."

To reduce rutting on wet ground, Mr Couchs three 8t trailers have been filled only half full and, when opening up a field, a tractor and trailer is employed – rather than having the trailer hooked onto the back of the forager.

Despite the poor conditions, workrates for the 435hp machine have remained constant at 20ha a day (50 acres) – although they have dropped to below 12ha a day (30 acres) in very wet conditions.

"Fitting a new pair of wide 650-35-R32 front tyres to the forager with six-row header has also keep rutting to a minimum, although crop intake has still been a problem," says Mr Couch. "Strong winds and heavy rain have lodged maize over a wide area throughout our customer base and sometimes the machine tended to pick-up five rather than six rows."

Delays from the appalling weather conditions have also put a hold on ploughing maize ground and hedgetrimming due to land being so wet. &#42

Heavy going, but at least the trailer is still above ground level. The next might not be so lucky.