Final fling for norths harvest as weather lifts?
Better weather earlier this
week saw many northern
crops at last fall to the
combine. Some yields are
better than expected. But
most growers are just glad
to get fields cleared. FWs
arable team reports
THE Indian summer has belatedly come to the rescue, with most Yorkshire wheats at last combined.
Even in Northumberland there was only about 15% left to cut with some farms already finished mid-week.
Main complaint is Hagbergs suffering in the deluge before the drier weather. Specific weights, bar in the Coastal Grain area, are better than last year. But protein levels are lower. "A lot of milling wheats are below 10% protein," reports Jonathan Cockill of N Yorks merchant Argrain.
Ian Craigs, chairman of the 37-member North East Grain co-op, has completed winter wheat at Tritlington Hall, Morpeth. "Quality is slightly better than last year, but yields are pretty moderate." Abbot gathered before the deluge sold for a premium of £20/t over feed, but low Hagberg rain-hit Hereward and Rialto are being rejected.
Much of the harvest relief is tempered by low prices, he adds. "Many growers round here are on mixed farms and they are very depressed."
Darlington-based Michael Manners finished wheats about a fortnight ago. "We cut a lot at 21% moisture and I am pleased we did. Diesel is pretty cheap at the moment, and having our own drier it did not cost too much."
Winter oats for milling are crop of the year for northern barometer grower Keith Snowball who finished combining on Saturday. First wheats also did well. "But the winter barley was disappointing to abysmal." Gerald oats gave an estimated 7.4t/ha (3t/acre) with a specific weight of 51-53kg/hl. "Solva did about 0.5t/acre less but was 55kg/hl. I think we are still on a learning curve with fertiliser and growth regulators for the crop." Saving grace in barley was Reginas unexpectedly good specific weight. "It was all in the mid 60s and outyielded Fighter which was as low as 54kg/hl. "Overall, the wheats did well and I reckon we have touched 4t/acre on some of it. But there are just two categories." Take-all and, with hindsight, too early drilling trimmed at least 2.5t/acre (1t/ha) off second and third crops, he says.
Hyola 401 spring rape was 18% moisture when gales struck. "It did 1t/acre and was better than the Sprinter, but I reckon we lost at least 2cwt/acre. One of our neighbours got 30cwt/acre." Previous best was 3.1t/ha. (25cwt/acre) from Sponsor.
SUMMER finally arrived earlier this week, but too late for some harvest areas.
In Easter Ross and along the Moray coast all the grain is in store.
A late bonus for David Houghton, Meddat, Invergordon, was Hyola 38 spring oilseed rape. "It yielded close on 30cwt/acre and I am delighted."
Mr Houghtons harvest has been very mixed. "I do not want to talk about the winter barley. It was a disaster and outyielded by the spring sown crops. We had half our 420 acres sown in mid February and those were the ones that did best with lower nitrogen and screenings and 2.25t/acre.
"Optic has been our best variety but the early Chariot also did quite well. Winter wheat was all flat but had not sprouted and yielded a surprising 3.5-3.7t/acre."
Aberdeenshire farmers are looking to the west with some envy. They had a lot of grain still to cut on Tuesday. But with a full week of good weather forecast they hoped to make big strides.
David Jack, Rothienorman, has moved to potatoes as he waits for the last fields of wheat to ripen. "The good weather cheers everyone, but it is difficult to forget some of the disasters like Chariot barley with 40% screenings not fit for malting and 35cwt/acre yield. I wont be growing it again."
Better weather is allowing straw baling right up behind the combine. Most agree it will be scarce and expensive this winter.
Barometer grower Eric Haggart has all his own wheat cut at Bailielands and the ground ready for sowing wheat and barley. "The later fields of Riband yielded about 2.5t/acre and the Madrigal did rather better."
Further south, Doug Niven, Duns, has harvested 1620ha (4000 acres) of grain on his own farm and others he manages in the Borders. "It has been a long, slow process and we badly needed this weather a month ago. Winter barley was a total disaster and outyielded by 0.5t/acre by spring barleys. Wheats have been surprisingly good, better than we had anticipated both in yield and quality. They have been running at up to 3.5t and bushel weights well into the 70s."
Merchant Adrian Fisher of Glencore Grain reports mixed wheat results. "People are concentrating on the standing crops and there the bushel weights are fine averaging 72kg. There has been some excellent Encore at 76 and 77kg. But the laid crops are black with fusarium and down to 62kg."
FINE weather means most growers will finish harvest this weekend.
After earlier fears of complete crop losses, average to good yields are a relief.
"The wheats are actually yielding very well," says Co Down grower John Best. Earlier this week he was half-way through his wheat, which was coming in at 18-26% moisture. "We reckon it will do 3.5t/acre when dried, which is very acceptable. Normally we average 3.25t/acre." Consort was fairing better than Reaper, which had lodged and was starting to sprout, even in standing crops.
In Co Armagh, seed grower Tim McClelland has finished Riviera spring barley, and is quite happy with 4.7t/ha (1.9t/acre). "That is a high average for us. The bushel weight is good, and it is a nice golden sample." He believes keeping nitrogen rates down to 112kg/ha (90 units/acre) for spring barley and 150kg/ha (120 units/acre) for wheat has paid off, with most of his crops standing.
Local contractor Ivan Megaw had a quarter of the harvest still to gather last Tuesday, but hoped to finish this weekend. "We have not had to deal with as much lodging as last year, despite the weather," he says. *