Barometer Farm spotlight: Trio of troubles on eastern barometer farm

After a promising start to harvest at Fleet Farm, West Butterwick, near Scunthorpe, with 100ha of Carat winter barley averaging 8.5t/ha and sold at up to £128/t for feed, things have not gone quite so well, admits Barometer farmer Chris Moore.

“We’d just started to nibble at the wheat – there’s been very little done round here,” he said on Monday afternoon. “We’d got about 120t of Cordiale in store when we had a horrendous storm last Thursday – 2in of rain in an hour.”

The grain, dried through an Opico mobile from 18.5% moisture and lying in an on-floor store waiting to be collected, was flooded as the yard’s drains were overwhelmed, said Mr Moore.

chris moore at desk 

Chris Moore – still smiling despite having to double-dry 120t of wheat.

“But full marks to the NFU’s assessor who came straight out the next day.” He confirmed that the insurance cover would pay for the grain to be re-dried, the result being that only one lorry was delayed.

“Because it was done immediately we only wrote off about 1.5t. So what I thought might have been a complete disaster turned out pretty well.

“It’s done a good 10t/ha, although the protein was very low – only 10.2%, so it it’s only gone for feed. But its bushel weight was among the highest we’ve ever had, at 84kg/ha.”

He had expected it to make about £112/t. But, because of the weather market, it fetched £124/t.

Fortunately, the new combine, an MF 22ft-cut Cerea, replacing an MF36RS “after cereals hit £175/t last year”, hadn’t made a greater inroad before the deluge, he added.

“We’d already stopped because of the expense of drying from 18.5%. It’s just as well we had or might have lost quite a bit more. But with the new combine’s higher capacity it does give us the chance to do more when things are a bit drier.”

chris moore sweeping grain store 
Dealing with the aftermath of the flooded grain store.

Given fine weather the remaining 240ha (593 acres) of wheat, half Cordiale, half Alchemy, should be cleared in six to seven days with the new machine. “But the quality is bound to be suffering now.”

Beyond that the only crop to harvest, apart from beetroot which was going well, was a small trial of Prophet dried peas. “We’ve got 4ha just to see how they do. I haven’t grown peas for 20 years, and I’m amazed at how tall they are.”

The flooded store was the second significant mishap of last week, he noted. “The day before, my Mazda four-wheel drive pick-up, admittedly quite an old one, was stolen from the farm. They always say things like this always come in threes. So I was waiting for the third.”

It duly arrived shortly afterwards.

“There was no way we were going to do any more of our own combining, so I thought I’d go away for the weekend. But when I went to get my passport I found it had run out. I stayed at home. But you’ve got to keep smiling, haven’t you?”