17 August 2001
Harvest Latest: Wheat yield gloom

By Tom Allen-Stevens and Tom Hood

THE now familiar sunshine and heavy showers continued throughout Friday (17 August) as growers continued the stop-start harvest.

Spring barley harvest looks to be going the same way as winter barley, with initial reports showing quality is good.

“Early drilled Chariot and Optic both have low screenings and nitrogen,” Gary Bright of Northumberland Grain told FARMERS WEEKLY.

“It is likely that spring barley crops will yield better than winter barley. There are some fantastic looking crops.”

But weather changes daily: “Yesterday you would have needed a canoe to get to our drier. Today you could be sitting out there on a deck chair!”

Struggling with very catchy conditions in Northern Ireland, Gerald Erwin is pleased with his winter barley crop.

“It has done 3t/acre (7.4t/ha), which is slightly above average. Autumn drilling conditions have meant the area of winter barley here is less than normal.”

But news of below average yields for this years wheat harvest continue to come in on the FWi/FARMERS WEEKLYHarvest Highlights service.

“Lloyd durum wheat was diabolical,” reports Robert Tallis, who farms at Frolesworth, near Lutterworth in Leicestershire.

“It yielded 1t/acre (2.5t/ha). It went into a dire seedbed and when we harvested it there was nothing there.

“I reckon every crop has yielded at least 0.5t/acre (1.2t/ha) less this season. We expected a poor harvest and it was delivered.”

Roger Mann in Warwick and John Ward at the Scott Abbott Arable Crop Station, west of Peterborough both quote a similar average yield decrease.

Sprouting has also been a problem. Fears are growing for prime quality wheats, such as Hereward, and Claire has been singled out by many growers.

One such example is Doug Dear at Osgodgy, near Selby in Yorkshire. His Claire has been ready for the past two weeks, but he has hardly worked his combine.

Catchy conditions will continue into the weekend, with the worst rain heading for the South West, says the Met Office. Sunday looks more hopeful than Saturday.

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