16 August 2001
Harvest latest: wheat worries build

By Tom Allen-Stevens

SHOWERS that have pulsed through the UK have put the brakes on the wheat harvest for many growers.

Most are happier, having have had at least a clear 24 hours in the last two days, but the depressing picture on yield and quality continues to build.

“I had one farmers first crop Malacca do 6.2t/ha (2.5t/acre).” Andrew Dewing, of Norfolk-based Alysham Grain, told FARMERS WEEKLY on Thursday (16 August).

“This is an exception, but Ive had no one do over 9.9t/ha (4t/acre) and this is worrying. The proteins are higher than last year, but the samples are not attractive.”

Tom Hipwell has started combining second crop Malacca wheat, at Little Gransden near St Neots in Cambridgeshire and echoes these concerns.

“[The grain] looks quite shrivelled and has a low bushel weight. It got killed off during the dry spell.”

The picture in the west is equally gloomy: Bruce Udale, who farms at Eyton in Shropshire, blames poor soil structure and late sowing following root crops.

“In this area there are a lot of root crops grown. I reckon we are 0.5t/acre (1.25t/ha) down on average. We expect to get 3.3t/acre (8.1t/ha).”

Combining conditions were good up to yesterday, with 16% moisture, and he says the sample looks good. But they have been stopped by an inch of rain overnight.

Guy Tindale, manager for JE Hartley at Amcotts near Scunthorpe in North Lincolnshire, was caught out by a similar downpour.

After 35mm of rain in the last two weeks, he has concerns for quality. Hereward yields have been variable but he believes he is also 0.5t/acre down on average.

But there is better news in the south west for Matthew Dale, who farms with his brother Paul at Falmouth in Cornwall.

Their Claire has yielded 9.2t/ha. “Im well pleased, because it has had a tough growing season. Anything over 3.5t/acre (8.6t/ha) is good.”

Barley harvest is Scotland is late, but steadily coming in. Variety performance has varied reports Simon Barry of Highland Grain, with Pearl being the best two-row.

“Siberia has been a disaster. It is thin, has a specific weight in low 50s (kg/hl) and will be a discounted variety,” he says.

Scottish and northern growers should benefit from the best of the weather in the next day or so, according to the Met Office.

Further south cloud cover will increase with rain expected late on Friday.