19 July 2002

East gets off to a cracking start

HARVEST is off to a "cracking good start", with winter barley yielding slightly more than last year, says Peter Wombwell, farmers weeklys Essex-based eastern barometer farmer.

Since starting on Saturday lunchtime, the Lexion 480 25ft cut combine hired under his new partnership arrangement (see p62) had cut 40ha (100 acres) of Madrigal oilseed rape on contract farmed land at Duxford, Cambs, and cleared 23.5ha (58 acres) of Pearl winter barley by Monday afternoon.

With rape moisture levels plummeting to 6.4% in the heat, only the first load from the headland needed drying. "We have been storming along."

Estimated yield of 4t/ha (33cwt/acre) from the light land could have been better, and he was hoping for more from his heavier ground at Rectory Farm, Ickleton, Saffron Walden.

"The Pearl has done 3.3-3.4t/acre, which is maybe a touch more than last year. It is a nice bright sample, but I have not had any tests done yet."

As with the rape, the grain moisture "dropped like a stone" from 19% to 15%, he notes. "But the straw was a bit sappy."

With few bookings scheduled at his Erith, Kent, crusher the hope was to have all the rape shifted by Wednesday at the contracted £136/t. &#42