17 August 2001

Rainfall makes it stop-start

Southern growers are

preparing to take wheat at

the first chance while in the

north the battle is with winter

barley and oilseed rape. Few

bumper yields are reported

and rain is raising quality

concerns. Building on FWis

daily reports, our regional

reporters bring you a round-

up of the weeks progress.

Edited by Andrew Swallow

EAST ANGLIA

AFTER a week of rapid progress rain knocked harvest off the rails last Saturday and with more forecast there are fears of a repeat of last year.

Yields of oilseed rape continue poor, later winter barleys are dragging down the average and early wheats are on the low side with quality very variable.

Steve Howlett of BDR at Bressingham in Norfolk says winter barley yields have been lower than expected. "Nitrogens are all over the place, but screenings are low."

Essex grower Richard Speakmans experience is typical. Pearl winter barley off heavy land near Chelmsford did just 5t/ha (2t/acre), but off light land it did 7.4t/ha (3t/acre).

"We normally get 3t/acre across the lot. The lightland crop produced a fantastic sample with bold grain and 1.5 to 1.8 nitrogens. The heavy-land sample was pathetic – shrivelled and thin grain only fit for feed."

Now he has made a start on Claire wheat off the light land. "The first 100 acres did 3t/acre, as a first wheat I had hoped for 3.25."

Cambs-grower David Lenton is similarly disappointed with his first 6ha (15 acres) of Malacca off sharp ground. Later crops look better, he says. "It is still green with a lot more potential."

Gleam winter barley did please, producing about 7.4t/ha (3t/acre) across 50ha (120 acres). "Normally I get slightly less. It was not a bad sample with 1.6% nitrogen. But I was disappointed with just over 1t/acre from rape, normally I get 27-28cwt."

Barometer grower Stuart Knight was similarly disappointed with oilseed rape at Rhoon Farm, Terrington St Clement, Norfolk. "One field that has been on a tight rotation did only 13cwt. The other did 25cwt." Sprayed off wheat will go as soon as weather permits.

Harlow Agricultural Merchants Stuart Attridge reports early wheats doing 7.4t/ha (3t/acre) with very variable quality. "Bushel weights have been down to 71kg/hl with proteins ranging from 14.8% down to 11.8%."

On the Cambs/Suffolk border Robert Claydon is reasonably happy with his start on Malacca. "I have only combined 40 acres, but my first impression is quite good.