23 August 2002

Winter oats make up for early gloom

AFTER early disappointments with low specific weights, winter oats are producing "useful" and even record yields from an area estimated to be 20% up on last season.

"Plenty of people are getting about 3t/acre," says Grainfarmers Steve Harrison. "Quality has been a pretty mixed bag but it is getting better as we come into mainstream crops.

"Its the high input people who are getting the results," notes Dorset-based colleague Ed Britton.

"Growers are very pleased with yields and colour. But there has been a huge 15kg/hl range in specific weights with some crops down to 40kg/hl. The bulk are about 50, but there have been a lot below spec."

Uncontrolled crown rust is largely to blame for the poorer performances, he believes.

However, Richard Whitlock of Banks Cargill says most growers are satisfied with oat crops. He anticipates a UK crop of about 740,000t.

Near Salisbury, Wilts, Charles Streets 40ha (100 acres) of Gerald broke his Berwick Farms record by delivering 9.8t/ha (4t/acre). "We would normally expect only 3t/acre, so this is brilliant."

Near Hull in East Yorkshire, David Kirkwood describes yields overall as great. "Oats were amazing at 3.75t/acre off 50 acres. They will now be sent for milling."

At Portway Farm, Andover, Hants, Brian Totmans 16ha (40 acres) of Gerald averaged 8.6t/ha (3.5t/acre) – about 20% more than normal. "The bushel weight was also very good at 55.5kg/hl."

Dalgetys Yorks-based trader Mark Smith says most quality in the north is adequate for milling.

But not everyone is happy. Heavy rain in Shropshire has left untreated crops lodged with regrowth, notes Allied Grains John Jones and Cornish contractor John Moss is disappointed with Jalnas 6.2t/ha (2.5t/acre). "We look for 2.75t/acre." &#42

In Scotland, former FW barometer grower Scott Adam fears his 24ha (60 acres) of lodged oats may end up in a salvage operation.

OATS OPTIMISM

* Generally good yields.

* Quality mixed.

* High inputs paid off.

* 740,000t national crop?

&#8226 Generally good yields.

&#8226 Quality mixed.

&#8226 High inputs paid off.

&#8226 740,000t national crop?