11 September 2001
Worst harvest for 10 years

“IN comparison to the last 10 years, its certainly the worst in terms of quality and quantity, although it was expected to a certain point,” says John Smith of the Weald Granary in Kent.

He says early wheat and barley quality was good, but since Kent has had some poor weather quality has fallen rapidly.

Yields in general are down on mostly clay soils. “Crops have sat in water all year and none is dry. 90% of crops have had to be dried while it is usually 50%.”

“Theres still a bit of everything to go and it will drag on for some while yet. Weve got another 4000t to fill, thats about 10%.”

Grade one wheat has held its quality well. “Some January drilled Malacca, combined yesterday, had 12.7% protein, 220 Hagberg but bushel was a bit low at 73%.

In most cases the late drilled winter wheat has out-performed later drilled spring crops. The quality deteriorates into class two and lower wheat.”

Most of the spring wheat has been poor in yield and therefore has had higher protein from 14-15%. “However, the grain looks shrivelled so the bushel is lower at 74kg/hl, even though the Hagberg is 250. It sat in moist conditions all year.”

Spring barley has been very problematic. Early crop was good quality until weather spoilt it. He estimates that 20% has been good quality and the rest will go for feed.

“Its mostly been pretty poor. Its failed on germination, discolouring, splits and skins. You name it, its got it.”

Milling oats have been harvested late and at high moistures. “There is a lot of straw and rubbish in them, but they can be cleaned. There has been a lot of secondary tillers and greens in the crop.”

Beans are about 50% complete and not yielding well. ” Were only going to get about 60% of what was committed, at 1000t rather than 1800t.”

He is also expecting to get 1000t of spring oilseed rape. “This is not great quality, with very small seeds.”

Overall he says the soil types and weather conditions over Kent have been very varied. “I wasnt expecting a great harvest in terms of quality and yields.

“Most crops have stood in wet conditions all year. I think some of the optimism from farmers has been unfounded and the poor harvest delivered has been worse than expected.”


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