15 September 2000

Rain hits north to turn the divide into a canyon

The North/South divide has

become a canyon, with

torrential rain wrecking

hopes of clearing harvest in

the north this week. Fuel

shortages are adding to the

worries, as stores and farms

run out of diesel to dry crops.

Meanwhile in the south it is

all over bar the shouting.

Edited by Andrew Swallow

SOUTH of the M62 wheat is finished bar odd pockets; yields are good say traders, but not up to last years records.

"There is a bit left on the Lincs Wolds and the east coast, but it is only 5-10%," says Cargills Andrew Bury. Average yields are about 0.2t/ha (0.5t/acre) down on last year, he reckons.

"Yields are quietly good – some light land wheat has been very good while some heavy land second wheats have dipped below the five-year average."

But it is too early to say if the yield nationally will be better than the five-year average as so much of the crop is still to be cut in the North and Scotland, he adds.

Mr Burys comments are echoed by ARCs Mike Carver. "Early-drilled wheat trials at Berwick will celebrate their first birthday this week. That is a measure of the problems growers have up there."

Nationally, some varieties which did not receive HGCA recommendation have performed remarkably well, he notes.

Pea yields are generally disappointing, with variable quality, reports Allied Grains Diss office. Beans seem to be fairing better though overall quality is still uncertain as only half the crop is cut.

Dalgetys Trevor Harriman puts average yield of spring and winter beans cut so far at a satisfactory 3.7t/ha (1.5t/ha), but in north Lincs and the west much of the crop is still to cut. Wheat yields were helped by late maturity, he believes. "The consensus is that yields were not as bad as expected. August was quite sunny and a lot was not fit so the wheat managed to fill out."

Spring barley is reported as the crop of the year by many. "It has done very, very well. Over 3t/acre is normal and the quality is exceptionally good," says one Allied trader. Some samples have again produced lower than ideal nitrogens, but maltsters should have more flexibility as higher N grain is also available, he adds.

REGIONAL ROUND-UP

&#8226 Wheat 95% done south of M62.

&#8226 Yields good but no record.

&#8226 Beans satisfactory so far.

&#8226 Late sown peas buck poor trend.

NORTH

THE forecast Indian summer failed to arrive last week and significant areas of wheat and beans remain to be cut.

Fuel shortage fears are adding to the weather worries. "I can only get by for a few days," says Miles Silcock of Watson House Farm, Halsall, near Ormskirk, Lancs. He has wheat, beans and some "hideous" linseed left. "So far the wheat yield and quality is very pleasing, if not the price," he says. Soissons as a second wheat did 9.3t/ha (3.75t/acre), Malacca 8.7-9.9t/ha (3.5-4 t/acre) with 13.2% protein and Claire has hit close to 9.9t/ha (4t/acre). Only Consort disappointed.

In Cumbria, Tom Bell of KW Agriculture says most grain is in but baling straw, worth £60/t at auction, is a struggle.

Across the Pennines, in Grain Cos catchment area, about 50% of wheat is cut, says Gary Bright. High moisture contents are slowing drying and oil deliveries are a concern. "We have 8000t of grain waiting for drying and more to come tomorrow." Of 20,000t of milling varieties delivered so far, 14,000t have been downgraded to feed, he adds.

farmers weekly barometer grower Matt Hanson has just over half his wheat still to cut at Rock Farms, in Northumberland. Monday saw 38mm (1.5in) of rain and flooding in the yards but luckily wheat is still standing, he says. But desiccated peas are shelling out and Claire could soon start to do the same, he fears. "On the bright side the combine monitor is showing over 4t/acre, but we await the final dried figures from Coastal Grain."

Near the Humber, Tony Pexton reports the wheat harvest virtually home, but says some on the Yorks Wolds have yet to start. He has been getting over 9.9t/ha (4t/acre), but a 24ha (60 acres) patch that is left has been flat for a month following early drilling.

IN THE BARN (TUE 12)

&#8226 Quality starting to suffer.

&#8226 Peas sacrificed for wheat.

&#8226 S barley quality good so far.

Harvest done. Peter Detnon checks Clipper beans for seed which came off light land at a pleasing 4.4t/ha (1.8t/acre) on Chris Farnhams Park Farm, Scarning, near Dereham, Norfolk earlier this week. Diesel ordered last week arrived on Tuesday – one of the last deliveries in the area.

Spotlight on Scottish barometer

Three days of fine weather allowed Nick Davidson to complete spring barley last Sunday. But while combines further south raced on in the Indian summer, progress at Milton of Clola, near Peterhead, ground to a halt on Monday, with just 10t of Riband wheat taken.

"The weather on Monday was hellish – wet and windy, and the forecast is not good, which is really frustrating. Not only is it adding to drying costs and risking inferior quality, it will leave a very short window for drilling winter barley after wheat.

"The spring barley yield, all Optic, was nothing spectacular. I estimate we have 2.25t/acre, which is as expected given its poor start. It did not come through for a month. The colour is not too bad, and, at 16-17% moisture off the combine, it wont need drying provided it is acceptable for malting.

"The initial wheat was excellent quality – specific weight 78kg/hl – which is pleasing. Moisture was a bit high at 23%, but that was from the headland and I would normally expect a lower figure from the rest, but maybe not now after the rain."

On a brighter note all his winter oilseed rape has emerged well. A Falcon/Herald blend to counter lodging was sown on Aug 15 and the more vigorous Pronto a week later. Ideal soil conditions meant pre-em Butisan (metazachlor) was trimmed to 1 litre/ha.

Home-saved winter barley, all Pastoral again, has been cleaned and treated with Raxil S (tebuconazole + triazoxide). "I may buy some Regina for a small acreage, but have not decided yet."

With Aberdeen at a standstill earlier in the week the fuel crisis is worrying, he admits. "But I cant see the blockades lasting long."

Optic spring barley, combined by Ellon-based contractor Bill Robertson (left) did as well as could be expected after a poor start, says barometer Nick Davidson.