13 August 2001
Harvest latest: Sunshine needed

By Tom Allen-Stevens

GROWERS across the UK are crying out for improvements to the weather as damp conditions continue to keep combines from the wheat crops.

“We need some sunshine!” says James Fuggle, who farms at Wadhurst in East Sussex, and who has had some excellent early results from Hereward winter wheat.

He still has 25ha (60 acres) of quality wheats left and has been pressing on in between showers to get them in the barn before the quality drops.

Its a similar picture across the south, as growers sacrifice moisture for quality.

“There has been a change in attitude and farmers are marching on.” John Smith of Weald Granary told FARMERS WEEKLY on Monday (13 August).

“To preserve quality, farmers will be willing to combine between 18-20% and then use their drying facilities.”

He reports that both protein and quality of the main group one milling varieties are still looking good, but the weather is his main concern.

Dorset farmer Brian Lock is also looking for sunshine so that he can crack on with his Claire winter wheat. Hes made a start but the crop was too wet.

“After one round of headland, the moisture was 26% and one strip up the middle was 21%.”

Meanwhile at Sixpenny Handley near Blandford Forum in Dorset, David Chick has had a pleasing start on his Optic spring barley.

“It has looked good all the way, since it was drilled in February,” he said. At 7.4t/ha (3t/acre) yield is 20% above average and he is getting a pure, bold sample.

But harvesting the crop has not been easy: “Weve been nipping in between showers to take what we can.”

The forecast, according to the Met Office, is for further outbreaks of rain in west and north, heavy in places, the south and south west mainly dry.

Sunny periods will start to develop, with eastern parts becoming hot. It will remain very humid.