16 August 2002

Harvest now back on track

By FW reporters

SUNSHINE at the start of the week came in the nick of time for most, preventing harvest turning into a soggy horror.

But exactly how much of the potentially record wheat crop has lost its Hagberg in the downpours remains to be seen.

"We have seen some lower Hagbergs from Lincs, Yorks and North Norfolk, but we are keeping our fingers crossed that there will still be enough quality wheat in the country," says Glencore Grain milling wheat trader Angela Gibson. Wheat from further south seems to have faired better so far, but it is extremely early days, she stresses.

Dalgetys Yorks-based trader Mark Worrell reports Malacca Hagbergs from a milling failure 150 to an absolutely fine 400. Claires and Consorts have been seen at anything from 65 to 280, he adds.

"Yields are satisfactory to good. No one has been disappointed yet and we have heard some astronomic figures too."

In Suffolk, Carl Dravers 90ha of continuous and second wheats were on par for the farm at 9.3t/ha (3.75t/acre). "I am very pleased with Xi19 – its yield was very good at 10.8t/ha.

Banks Cargills grain director Richard Whitlock says that while growers should make haste with harvest to preserve Hagbergs they must not overlook immediate store management.

Too much grain, cut too wet, too warm and too fast for the dryer to keep up, risks mycotoxin producing moulds developing, especially in unventilated heaps, he warns.

EU laws passed in April on mycotoxin contamination of foodstuffs mean grain processors will be extra vigilant for such contamination this season. Non-food use would be growers only outlet for failures, he suggests.

"It is bad enough with prices as low as they are, but to take half of that is suicidal. Let us get this grain the right side of the barn door and then look after it."

Spring malting quality seems to have survived the weather so far (see overleaf), but pulse traders are concerned for the pea crop.

"Crops are now very close to the ground and in danger of getting spoiled," says Mark Button of Dengie in Essex, where about 30% of the crop had been cleared earlier this week. PGROs Geoffrey Gent says yields are below expectations.

"Rain in May and June meant too much vegetative growth, rather than yield, and a lot of lodging. Recent rains have flattened crops and threatened quality." &#42