Stop-start progress for early spring barley drilling in Norfolk

Spring barley drilling is making stop-start progress between the showers on one large north Norfolk farm estate, although better weather is forecast.

The Holkham estate has doubled its normal area of spring barley to drill this season to 700ha, as only half its planned winter cereal area went into the ground due to a very wet autumn and winter.

The free-draining soils of north Norfolk are traditional malting spring barley land, and are often one of the first areas of the country to start spring sowing.

See also: How to grow a 10t/ha-plus malting spring barley crop

James Beamish, farm manager at Holkham, says about 200ha of spring barley has been drilled so far, and he is optimistic about their progress, with good weather due over the next few days.

“We started drilling about 10 days ago, but it has been stop-start between the showers, and we have probably had only about four to five days of drilling,” he says.

Bigger spring barley area 

The 3,500ha farmed estate usually grows about 350ha of malting spring barley, but this has been pushed up due to lower plantings of winter wheat and barley.

This season, the spring barley area is split 60:40 between Laureate and the newer variety Diablo, with a big proportion of the crop destined for the family-owned brewer Adnams on the Suffolk coast at Southwold.

The AHDB Early Bird survey last month forecast the UK area of spring barley would be up 47% at just over 1m hectares due to lower areas of winter crops drilled.

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