Mark Ireland farms with
his father and brother at
Grange Farm, North
Rauceby, Lincs. Sugar beet
and barley are the core
crops on the 1004ha (2481
acres) heathland unit
SUNDAY, Aug 4, and the proverbial hit the harvest fan in a big way. Two days after seeing sprouting in our Hereward wheat, we found some spring barley growing in the ear.
Luckily, our friendly and obliging grain merchant was playing tennis next to the field in question – it was Sunday after all.
He left with various samples for analysis, the aim to decide which of 213ha (526 acres) of Optic and 252ha (623 acres) of milling wheat should take priority.
As it was, the heavens opened with only 35% of our wheat cleared and barley dries out that much faster so was cut first from there on.
A frantic fortnight later, with crops cut at high moisture content to begin with and the drier working 24 hours/day, we finished our cereal harvest.
Has the urgency paid off? Well, yes and no. In terms of yield we have had one of our most successful harvests other than with winter barley. Optic spring barley averaged 6.38t/ha (2.58t/acre) and winter wheat 8.6t/ha (3.48t/acre).
That wheat figure is especially pleasing since 50% was the lower yielding Hereward. Star of the harvest is Xi19 which averaged 9.81t/ha (3.97t/acre).
Most surprisingly, given all the rain we had, none of the wheat went flat, or, as my daughter Tilly puts it, "went to sleep".
Nonetheless, quality has been variable. Spring barley germination ranges from 96% to a worrying 92%, but bushel weight is good and nitrogen 1.4-1.75%.
Wheats bushel weight and protein is good too but Hagbergs are going to be a problem.
What started as full spec Hereward tumbled to 120 within a week. Xi19 started out at 12.7% protein, 80kg/hl and 337 Hagberg but that too has slumped to 160.
Malacca and Option appear to have held on better at about 200, but I must stress these later Hagberg figures are based on a very limited sample at this stage.
Most entertaining moment of harvest – disturbing a completely naked man sunbathing in a field of barley! *
Spring barley germination is in the balance and Hagbergs have had it, says Mark Ireland.