14 August 2001
Harvest latest: Quality wobbles

By Tom Allen-Stevens

AS combines finally roll back into the wheat crop, there are early indications that quality of prime milling wheats could have taken a hit.

“Weve had to reject two trailer loads on protein and bushel weights.” Ted Bird, of Somerset-based Cannington Grain told FARMERS WEEKLY on Tuesday (14 August).

“Weve seen some poor quality milling wheat,” he added. Phil Kinch, the Lo-till Event host farmer based in Faringdon in Oxfordshire has heard reports of milling wheats sprouting out in the field.

“Im dead chuffed that my Hereward hasnt grown out,” he commented. “Its understandable at the end of harvest, but not the beginning.”

Yield off the light greensand is a pleasing 7.6t/ha, although this is at an average of around 20% moisture.

Sprouting has also been a worry in Suffolk for Roger Middleditch who farms on the coast at Wrentham.

They started combining Malacca wheat at 19% on Tuesday (14 August) afternoon. The farm has received 35mm of rain in the last week.

“The wheat is going to be a mixed bag. Early drilled crops should be good, but January drilled crops will be a lottery.”

For Tony Higgins, farming near Langport in Somerset, who rang in on the FARMERS WEEKLY Harvest Hotline, yields are the main concern.

“Wheat yields are diabolical,” he said. Claire has yielded between 4.9-6.8t/ha (2-2.75t/acre). This is about 2.5t/ha (1t/acre) below the average for the farm.

He blames drought conditions during the end of May and June on the brash-soil based farm.

For Jonathon Holland, in Hungerford near Berkshire, the rain has hampered efforts to get his four combines to do any serious work.

“Every time we look like going we get a deluge. It hasnt given us a chance.” Feed wheat is only just coming fit, and the crops are about eight days behind usual, he reports.

Immediate prospects for progress dont look good however: the Meteorological Office reports that current catchy conditions will continue into the foreseeable future.

The hot weather in the south will give way to showers spreading in from the east, while rain in the north and Scotland will eventually clear away.