17 November 2000

Its a stop-start campaign as soggy ground bogs it all down

Heavy rain has prolonged

maize harvesting by as much

as three weeks in some parts

of the UK this autumn, forcing

contractors to adopt other

harvesting techniques.

Andy Moore reports

CUMBRIAN contractor John Horsley has born the brunt of some of UKs worst weather this year, which has delayed his 243ha (600 acre) maize harvesting campaign by 10 days since he started in the last week of September.

"We started on schedule, but then the whole operation went pear-shaped and it became a stop/start procedure throughout October," says Mr Horsley who is based at Abbeytown, near Carlisle.

"Most maize was taken off dry ground without any problem, although there was 100 acres of low-lying wet land, which extended the finishing date until Nov 4." The delays meant Mr Horsley was unable to maintain his work schedule, forcing one customer to call in another contractor.

Further headaches were met when three of his 10-strong tractor trailer team became bogged down to such an extent that they had to be rescued by a Hymac excavator.

The situation required tractors fitted with dual wheels to be left in the field to perform an emergency service should one of the carting team become stuck.

Mr Horsley says workrates of his two self-propelled Claas Jaguar 820 foragers fitted with six-row conventional maize headers were reduced from 18ha a day to 14ha a day (45 to 35 acres) in the poorest conditions.

"The sodden ground and wet crop cut workrates considerably for each machine, although operating two foragers allowed more flexibility across our contracting base," he says. "Machine settings were kept the same as harvesting in normal dry conditions, although we produced a longer chop length occasionally to increase forward speeds."

Mr Horsley believes excess mud on the road was not a problem due to most maize being grown on sandy soils and customers sweeping up after his team finished. &#42

Cumbrian contractor John Horsley operated a team of back-up tractors fitted with dual wheels to pull tractors and trailers out when they were bogged down.