19 July 2002

Sunshine sees Le Mans style start to harvest

Combines sprang into action across the country earlier this week. Here David Whattoff harvests Vanessa winter barley, which finished at about 7.4t/ha (3t/acre) and 13% moisture off 42ha (105 acres) of light fen skirt soil. "Thats average for us but the sample is bold."

By Andrew Swallow

HARVEST got off to a cracking start earlier this week with traditionally early areas having to share the first cut limelight with heavier and more northerly farms.

Weekend wind and sun saw combines into winter oilseed rape and barley as far north as Yorkshire. Initial indications are that barley yields are at least average and quality looks good.

"Barley has been cut from just north of the Humber down to Wiltshire," says Banks Cargill trader Jonathan Hoyland. "But southern England is a few days behind normal because it has been so wet."

While only a handful of Pearl and Vanessa samples have been seen so far, screenings and nitrogens are "usable" for malting, he says. "It will be interesting to see where they go from here given the long dry spell after Easter."

Early yield reports are also positive. "Weve heard of six-rows in Wilts doing 3.6-3.7t/acre, but the bushel weight is only 63kg/hl."

On Tuesday in Beds, Bedfordia Farms arable manager Bob King reported six-row variety Siberia coming in at 63-65kg/hl. A first field of two-row Haka off boulder clay, finished on Monday, did 9t/ha (3.6t/acre) at 72-73kg/hl. "We are well pleased with that."

Other growers are also reporting pleasing barley yields, such as Rob Timmis, from near Newport, Shropshire. His first 26ha (65 acres) of Heligan off light land did 6.2t/ha (2.5t/acre), he estimates.

"That is good off our light land. It is yielding well with a good bold sample and bushel weight."

On the Suffolk-Cambs border Philip Sabin says Pearl is "about on target" at 7.4t/ha (3t/acre) off his sandy loam soil over chalk. "We started on Monday and it is coming in at 13% moisture and 68kg/hl. It looks a good sample."

But in Warks Lee Sutton says 40ha (100 acres) of Pearl cleared for neighbour John Bains, of Donative Farm, Polesworth, was a little below par on yield.

"It has done 2.7-3t/acre – we would normally expect over 3t. But it is a clean and bold sample and we have not had to dry anything. It was 14% when we started on Sunday and 13.7% on Monday."

The combine was going on into oilseed rape on Wednesday, weather permitting, and his own wheat could be ready within a week, he says. "We normally dont cut wheat until the third week of August."

&#8226 For more on oilseed rape harvest progress turn to p50. &#42

&#8226 Yields generally good.

&#8226 First glimpse quality fair.

&#8226 Low MC intervention plus.

&#8226 Le Mans-style start from Yorks south.

Correct moisture

Cargill Banks Mr Hoyland stresses that where possible growers should take feed barley, or malting crops that could end up as feed barley, at under 14% moisture. "Moisture contents of under 14% off the field are very good news because intervention needs to be under 14% and that looks like being the best priced feed market. Its worth £60/t ex-farm for November today, which is £2 or £3/t over the free feed market."