15 August 2001
Harvest latest: Rain worries prevail

By Tom Allen-Stevens

QUALITY concerns remain uppermost in most growers minds as hot and dry conditions across the UK sent combines racing furiously through wheat crops.

Many growers were harvesting through the night on Tuesday (14 August) to cut through as much of the crop as possible before Wednesday nights forecast rain.

Its been the intensity of the rain that has worried Tim Harvey, who farms at Chapel Brampton, near Northampton.

A five-minute hailstorm, producing two inches of hail on the ground, has caused some damage to crops and he is worried that Hagbergs may have suffered.

“It hurt the Claire, knocking the ears. But I dont think it will affect the yield too much,” he told FARMERS WEEKLY on Wednesday.

The rain has taken its toll on wheat at Cherry Cobb Sands, just north of the Humber estuary, farmed by Davis Kirkwood and his son.

He has noticed the odd sprouting grain in his crops of Charger. “They took a bit of harm last week, and now have a dirty look,” he said.

Clinton Dunmore, at Souldrop in North Bedfordshire, is also worried about quality. “The wheat is OK at this stage, but we dont need any more rain.”

Yields have varied between 8t/ha for Malacca to 9.9t/ha for Hereward, but the average this year will be below his normal farm average of 9.5t/ha, he says.

Further south near Luton, Gary Spiers is about to start what he believes will be a very varied wheat crop. “I am not bracing myself for wonderful yields.”

His oilseed rape he describes as a disaster, yielding below 2.5t/ha (1t/acre). “Wed normally expect 3.7t/ha (1.5t/acre).”

However, seed crops have performed well for Roger Moore who farms near Salisbury in Wiltshire. “Ive been pleasantly surprised by yields, despite a poor season.”

Cromer peas have yielded 5.6t/ha, Millennium winter oats have yielded a pleasing 8.9t/ha. and the start of the Optic spring barley has gone well at 7.2-7.4t/ha.

More heavy showers are already pulsing into the south west, however, according to Met Office radar data.

These are likely to become more organised over the south east overnight, clearing the UK on Thursday, but leaving behind scattered showers.