10 September 2001
Harvest 2001: Verdict on the south

By Tom Hood

WITH harvest finished in all but the north, apart from a few patches of wheat and beans, the verdict seems to be that there has been great variation in yield and quality.

Across southern England 80% of the spring barley crop is good quality but the rest has now deteriorated. The trend on wheat is for yields to be better on lighter soils.

Wiltshire Grains Nick Brown says yields are better on chalk soils, but quality more varied.

“The bushel is the biggest disaster, but the millers are just being fussy. They will take most of it.

“The bushel will also improve in store with cleaning and drying,” he told FARMERS WEEKLY on 10 September.

Spring barley quality has now deteriorated. “There are skins and splits now, but 80% of the crop was fine and only the last 20% has gone.”

Beans are not without problems: “A lot of combines are losing the lowest pods as they are so close to the ground.”

Hampshire Grain will have less wheat than initially predicted, according to Mike Clay.

“The area drilled was definitely less, so we made sure we would get the normal area, but are still down on tonnage. I would estimate yields are 0.25-0.5t/acre down.”

Beans are averaging up to 3.7t/ha (1.5t/acre), which is below the 4.3t/ha (1.75t/acre) norm.

Farming consultant Andrew Graham of Strutt and Parker in Salisbury says: “Wheat yields have been good, averaging 4t/acre but we have had yields up to 4.25t/acre.” The land around Salisbury is mostly chalk.

“Proteins have usually been low, between 12-12.5. There is variability on samples. The front and back of a shed are not showing any relation.”

He has only seen a couple of sample of beans, which are good quality and yielding a pleasing 4.3t/ha (1.75t/acre). But he says it is too early to be sure.

Harvest has been very variable in the West Country, according to Wessex Grain.

Owen Cligg says: “On heavy soils in West Dorset and Devon yields are down 5% and there is an increase of 1-2% from last year on chalk soil in East Dorset and Wiltshire.

“Hagbergs have held up tremendously well. Protein has been good and specific weight has been moderate, but it can be cleaned up and blended.”

With 50% of beans now combined yields are said to be down by 30%.

Anna Stiles of Wessex Grain says of spring barley: “Were seeing some rubbish spring barley. Its dark and dull when you expect nice bright berries.

“But the early stuff was lovely. About 80% is very good quality and 20% not so brilliant.”

Dalgetys Robin Webb says wheat and barley are very mixed in yield and quality in Dorset. Harvest will finish this week with beans and the last wheat.

“Wheat has been a real mixed bag in terms of quality. Most of the Hagbergs have been ok. Protein has varied from 13-14% at the top end to 11-12% at the lower end.”

Spring barley has also been variable. “Later combined crops now have high nitrogen of 1.9-2.2 and very variable screenings and bushel. Fusarium is very prevalent.”

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