7 September 2001

Souths near done but north battles

Harvest was home for most

growers from the Midlands

south last week with only

beans and late spring crops

to be cleared. Showers are

frustrating progress with

those and wrecking spring

barley further north. Our

comprehensive coverage

continues, starting in the

Midlands. Edited by

Andrew Swallow

MIDLANDS

HARVEST finished for most last week with wheat yields typically 10-15% down on long-term averages.

Only beans, spring wheats and very late sown winter crops were left on Tuesday.

Rockingham Castle Farms yields off mostly chalky boulder clays soils on the Leics/Northants border are typical. "Winter wheat has averaged 63cwt/acre – normally we do 75-77cwt," says manager, Ray Dalton.

But within that, as on many farms, there is huge variation. "Early-drilled Genghis on light land did just under 4t/acre while late-sown Biscay did only 2t. It is down to soil type rather than variety."

Target winter beans were running at an about average 4.9t/ha earlier this week, and the first field of March sown Samoa wheat did 7.2t/ha. "I shall be disappointed if we do not get 50cwt/acre overall," he says of the one off crop.

Milling wheat in the region has mostly made the grade, though some, such as Northants grower Peter Rymers, has struggled on specific weight.

"I am disappointed with the bushel weight in Malacca and Claire. It is 73-74kg/hl when we normally get 76-77. Everything else is OK, but that makes it borderline for milling."

Dalgety trader Andrew Pattendon says that is typical. Less than half of Group 1 varieties will make full 13% milling specification, but 70-80% will make the grade with allowances, he estimates.

"Biscuit wheats are not too horrific though quite a few are low specific weight," he adds.

While some have been finished for nearly a fortnight others with beans and spring crops, such as Midlands barometer grower Brian Shaw, are finding it a frustrating finish.

"We have still got a good weeks work to clear up everything. I have got to the stage if we can cut it we will combine it."

IN THE BARN (TUE)

&#8226 Wheat yields 10-15% below ave.

&#8226 Mainly spring wheat left.

&#8226 Frustrating finish delaying drilling.

SOUTH-WEST

SPRING barley quality is deteriorating after rain hampered progress.

"We are seeing skinning, higher nitrogen, pre-germination and fusarium problems," says Wessex Grains Anna Stiles. Most earlier crops made malting standard but nitrogens now are mostly over 2%.

Cannington Grains Ted Bird echoes that. "Samples are not pretty, with fusarium everywhere you look."

He is also worried about bean quality. "Every sample I have seen has bruchid beetle, which means they are not exportable."

Dorset barometer grower George Hosford is having a varied harvest. "Oats have let us down and wheat has been mixed." Beans and spring oilseed remain.

Optic spring barley averaged 6.4t/ha (2.6t/acre) at 1.55-1.65% nitrogen. "Spring and winter barley had very low screenings."

"Naked oats are 2t/ha below average and conventional oats 1t/ha down, but quality is OK.

"Winter wheat will average better than last year at 3.5t/acre." Claire and Consort did well but Chaucer and Savannah disappointed. Autumn-sown Soissons was good quality, with 13% protein and Hagberg over 250.

Organic Penheale Estate near Launceston, Cornwall is seeing useful output after slurry use.

May-sown feed barley did 3.7-4.3t/ha (1.5-1.75t/acre). "Its a good sample with clean straw," says manager Simon Oates.

Drought hit Charlie Watson Smyths Cornish spring barley. Chariot was about 0.6t/ha (0.25t/acre) below normal.

IN THE BARN (TUE)

&#8226 Quality worries in far SW.

&#8226 Skinning and pre-germinating.

&#8226 Early concern with beans.

&#8226 Wheat drawing to a close.

SOUTH

MOST winter wheat made it into the barn before quality went, but spring barley quality is deteriorating with late cuts and bean yields mixed.

"Spring barley is becoming variable – we are now seeing nitrogen above 2%," says Martin Parry, of Andover-based Centaur Grain. Hampshire Grains Mike Clay also reports later samples with higher nitrogen, some splitting and pre-germination.

Quality of later winter wheats also tailed off, says Mr Parry. "There has been a significant reduction in Hagberg of soft wheat. Claire is down to 120 whereas previously it was 150-200. The samples are not visibly as pleasing."

Over half the bean area was combined by Tuesday, he estimates. West Sussex barometer grower Tim Lock describes his Quattro spring beans as a disaster.

"They went in on wet light soil and then dried out completely. They were short and not very good at all. I would rather not say what they yielded."

But Clipper winter beans for seed on heavier land have more potential, he adds.

Kent grower Clive Apps crops are similar. "Winter beans look reasonable, but spring beans look sparse. It has been a variable harvest."

For example, wheat yields ranged from 6.2t/ha to 10t/ha.

IN THE BARN (TUE)

&#8226 Wheat finished most OK quality.

&#8226 Spring barley deteriorating.

&#8226 Mixed reports for beans.

WEST

GROWERS were once again in sombre mood as heavy showers disrupted the final push to clear this years harvest.

Barometer grower Tim Morris of Coneygar Farm, Quenington, near Cirencester, summed it up having finished his harvest, beating weekend rain to snatch 4ha (10 acres) of oilseed rape abandoned earlier in the campaign. "It is all best forgotten."

Winter oilseed rape set a poor tempo, then wheat and barley hardly compensated with average yields of 6.2-7.4t/ha (2.5-3t/acre) being common, say merchants.

To compound the disappointment and despite early hopes malting barley is now clocking up nitrogens over 1.8% ruling out some local markets, says Wrekin Farmers Stuart Dolphin.

Growers cannot hide their disappointment. Wynn Joness Riviera feed barley barely made 4.9t/ha (2t/acre) at Castellior Farm, Manei Bridge, Angelsey. "Hardly a record-breaker," he says.

Heavy rains still dog progress. "We have had between 15 and 35mm a day at the end of last week and still need six clear days to finish harvesting," says Whitchurch, Shropshire-based grower Robin Huxley.

While the cereal acreage wanes, winter beans and spring oilseed rape are just coming fit. Yields are expected to be average at best.

"Those growers looking back rationally accept that crops have not done too badly considering what they have been through," says Western Arable Services Jeff Russell.

IN THE BARN (TUE)

&#8226 Final push disrupted.

&#8226 High N in later barley.

&#8226 General disappointment.

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Spotlight on Northern Ireland barometer

Harvest at Battletown Farm, Newtownards is a good ten days later than last year. But with three-quarters of his wheat sown in January Mark McFerran says that is hardly surprising. And with a reasonable weather forecast, most of the straw baled and cleared and some of next years crop already drilled by Tuesday, he remained fairly relaxed.

"We just have to be patient and take the opportunities as they come." For example, some green-top potatoes have already been lifted.

Much of the remaining Riband and Consort was barely ripe mid-week, though strobilurins are not to blame, he says. But given good weather they should be cleared by early next week.

Against first cut October-sown Napier, delivering 8.2t/ha (3.3t/acre) and making £87/t for early delivery to a Belfast compounder, initial Riband has disappointed. "We are getting about 3t/acre. But considering some people did not get any wheat sown at all it is not too bad and at that it beats spring barley."

Overall grain quality has been good, though details of specific weights have yet to be returned.

Round bales cleared and making £9 apiece have helped boost the bottom line. "It is good money and certainly better than last year." It should help pay for the increased grain drying required through the Opico batch drier. Some samples have been up to 27% moisture, though most have been 18-19%.

In a determined effort not to be left with so much late-sown wheat next season, Mr McFerran drilled 11ha (28 acres) of Claire on Monday. "The earliest we have ever gone before was Sep 11.

"It took a bit of organisation, because we had to get over-yeared seed from Southern Ireland and I gave the seed rate quite a lot of thought." In the event the Latitude-treated crop went in at 125 seeds/sq m. "That works out about 3.5stones/acre."

N IRELAND

BARELY a wheel turned on many farms last week due to constant drizzle through to heavy rain.

But provided the weather improves soon the implications are not too severe, say growers.

Some did snatch the odd day last week. "We moved into winter wheat on Monday and cut 14 acres of Claire. Yield was just over 3t at 19% moisture, but the straw was still green," says Robert Moore of Co Londonderry.

Almost 80% of his wheat is still to cut, plus all 25ha (60 acres) of spring barley and 12ha (30 acres) of spring oats.

In Co Down Graham Fury was one of the lucky ones able to cut wheat on Friday, taking 12ha (30 acres) each of Consort and Claire. He has about half his crop cleared.

"The second year wheat was drilled almost in a bog, that is how bad the conditions were. The yield off one-third of a field of 10 acres was a disaster, but the rest managed 3.25t, which is not too bad.

"The same varieties following peas and potatoes have been up to 4t, but the grain has been wet, almost steaming."

Across the province spring barley crops look well with unconfirmed yields of up to 7.4t/ha (3t/acre) reported.

IN THE BARN (TUE)

&#8226 Wet weather upsets progress.

&#8226 Wheat cut at 24%.

&#8226 Spring barley looks good.

EAST ANGLIA

THE jury is still out on harvest, but indications are that the verdict will condemn second wheats, spring barley will be let off for good behaviour, and with pea and bean yields all over the place their fate is anybodys guess.

In Suffolk, Framlingham Farmers survey shows wheat yield 10-15% down on 2000. "We are averaging 3.25t/acre, which is 0.5t down," says Barry Howard.

Local grower David Edwards has seen a similar drop. "My 400 acres averaged 3.35t/acre, 11cwt less. Second wheat let us down, it was 1t/acre off while first wheat was similar to last year."

While wheat is all stubble in the centre and south of the region about 25% is still to cut in North Norfolk. "We are averaging over 3t/acre," says Andrew Dewing of Aylsham Grain. "Second wheat has disappointed. Most spring barley seen so far meets specifications."

Barometer grower Stuart Knight hopes to finish Paragon spring wheat by the weekend so the combine can start Victor spring beans. Further south growers are also sweeping up pulses.

"We are in the final throws of what has turned out to be a far from great harvest," says Harlow Agricultural Merchants Ian Low. "Pea yields range between 0.75 and 2.25t/acre with many blanched samples, winter beans are averaging 1.25t/acre."

In Essex, Adam Haylock has almost finished beans, Target doing about an average 3.8t/ha, while Philip Mugglestone finished Punch on Saturday. "My 52 acres went into awful conditions in late November – I am relieved to have combined 60t."

In Beds, Alex Bates has polished off peas having finished wheat earlier.

"My 110 acres of Megane did 1.5t/acre, we normally get 2t, but it was a decent sample with good colour."

IN THE BARN (TUE)

&#8226 Big 1st & 2nd wheat yield gap.

&#8226 S barley quality reasonable.

&#8226 Mixed pea and bean yields.

NORTH

GROWERS in the north are crossing their fingers for favourable weather to finish harvest.

Given that, this years wheat will be "fairly acceptable" and spring barleys have yielded surprisingly well.

Optic and Chariot are the two best performers says Fieldcares Thirsk-based agronomist Bryan Pickles. "Both have averaged 2.75-3t/acre. Although nitrogen levels are slightly high most are achieving malting quality samples."

Wheat yields and quality are slightly above 10-year averages thanks to plenty of grain filling sunshine, he adds. "Most Malacca is reaching milling quality and feed wheats have good bushel weights."

But pea yields are typically 1.2t/ha (0.5t/acre) down due to late and poor drilling conditions, he notes.

Borders grain trader, Michael Dagg, of McCreath, Simpson and Prentice, says first and second wheat quality has been superb so far, but second wheat yields are disappointing.

"Group one first wheats have yielded about 4t/acre, with proteins of 13% and Hagbergs of 250. But the second wheat yields have only been about 2.5t/acre."

After poor winter barley yields, he does not expect much from the spring barley crop, which should have been harvested last month.

"Heavy rain delayed harvest and we are seeing a lot of split corns and sprouting."

But near Hartlepool, Teeside grower Keith Johnson reports no such problems with March-sown Optic. Malacca wheat harvested earlier achieved no more than an average yield at 6.8t/ha (2.75t/acre), but he expects it to make milling.

Now, growers are hoping for fine weather to finish a late campaign. Near Alnwick, Northumberland, Ian Brown still has two-thirds of his crops to cut.

"At least beans stand well and they can be harvested up to November or December."

IN THE BARN (TUE)

&#8226 1st wheat good, 2nd disappointing.

&#8226 Wheat quality good.

&#8226 Some S barley splitting and sprouting.

SCOTLAND

SPRING barley harvest in the north of Scotland is going from bad to worse with catchy weather compounding the already serious quality problems.

Further south things are a bit better. At Pitmaduthy, near Invergordon, in Ross-shire, barometer grower Tom Robb cut just 2ha of spring barley last week. "It has been awful. The constant showers stop everything. We need at least two good dry days in a row to let the fields dry out."

Wheat is near ready on many farms and the pressure on combines will be enormous unless people can get on with barley soon, he adds.

Some reports say only 30% of barley samples from the north are acceptable to maltsters. Near Buckie in Morayshire, Colin Smith managed just 10ha of Optic last week.

"There are problems everywhere in this area with splitting and skinning and pre-germination. The weather is no help, with the crop wet and dry, then wet and dry."

Glencore Grains Ian Simpson confirms the quality problems in the north and to the west of Perth. Splitting and skinning problems with Chariot and Prisma are widespread, but in the Angus and Tayside regions Optic is yielding well with excellent screenings and an average 1.5% nitrogen, he says.

But harvest is at least a week behind normal. Early wheat samples from the central belt and east look better than expected with bushel weights of 74-75kg/hl, he adds.

In Stirlingshire, near Kippen, Scott Adam is ahead of most having finished winter wheat last week. Malacca after winter oats sprouted but following spring oilseed rape and set-aside there was no problem.

In Berwickshire, Colin McGregor is also into wheat having finished spring barley. "Yields from early sown fields of Consort are about 4t/acre, which is better than our average for the past few years." &#42

IN THE BARN (TUE)

&#8226 S barley quality split north/south.

&#8226 Moisture levels creeping up.

&#8226 Early wheats promising.