29 August 2001
Harvest 2001: S barley disease worry

By Tom Hood

GOOD bank holiday weather has seen massive progress in wheat and barley across southern England, some growers completing their cereal harvest.

With 75% of the winter wheat and spring barley harvest now finished in the region, a clearer picture of quality and yield is emerging.

“Wheat yields have been very heavy on light chalk land in north Dorset,” says Robin Webb of Dalgetys Southwest.

But he does have worries on spring barley. “There is some splitting in grains, screenings are variable and there is some fusariun in the sample.”

This is backed up by Cannington Grains Ted Bird: “Fusarium is becoming a big problem. In a batch of 80 acres (32ha) of Optic, every sample has the disease.”

Wheat crops across Dorset are pleasing. Bob Rowe has almost finished combining his.

Quality wheat was combined before rain two weeks ago. The Hagberg was between 350-400, protein 12.7-12.9% with specific weight 79kg/hl.

“Weve had yields up to 11t/ha (4.5t/acre), which is a good 1t/ha (0.4t/acre) up on average.”

Yields have been better on light chalk land and worse on heavier and gravely ground. Dorset farmer Rebecca Webber is typical.

Overall she expects yields to average close to the normal 8.1t/ha (3.3t/acre), with a mixture of first and second wheat on the heavier land yielding less.

“Considering how they looked in March, with bits taken out by flooded patches, this is good.”

Further west, Devon farmer Mark Stevens and Cornwall farmer Matthew Dale have had below average yields, but admit they were not unexpected

On the Isle of Wight, Mike Morris has combined good quality Hereward, but poor yields.

In East Anglia crops on heavier land have continued to perform below average. Jack Webber, near Bury St Edmunds says wheat yields have been particularly variable.

The Midlands is due to stay dry, according to the Met Office, but Scotland, Northern Ireland and the south can expect rain late on Wednesday (29 August).

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