Barometers wait for crops to ripen

Farmers Weekly’s midlands and Humberside Barometer farmers made a swift start to their harvests, but both were waiting for crops to ripen. James Andrews reports


Combines were at a standstill at Beelsby House Farm, near Grimsby on Tuesday (3 August), but would be roaring by the end of the week, said Humberside Barometer Jonathan Fenwick. “It’s raining a bit at the moment, but it’s probably a good thing as it’s stopping me getting going again too early.”

By Tuesday he had cut 60ha Flagon malting barleyand 40ha DK Cabernet oilseed rape. “The barley yields were much better than I expected at 3.5t/acre, but grain nitrogen was high at 1.94%, so it’s likely to go for feed. The drought meant the nitrogen went into the grain, but because the yield’s OK I’m not too unhappy.”

Bushel weight averaged 68kg/hl and none of it needed to go through the drier. “We got it all in at 13-14% moisture, so we just had to cool it down in the shed.”

Barley straw was in high demand and had been sold for just under £100/ha in the swath. “It’s already been cleared and we’ll be looking to start planting oilseed rape on 12 August with our subsoiler-seeder and Nitrojet fertiliser applicator. We probably won’t spray off the stubbles, but we might add a bit of glyphosate with the pre-emergence herbicide.”

DK Cabernet suffered from some pod abortion earlier in spring frosts, but it compensated to deliver some reasonable yields, he said. “We’ve only cut rape on the lighter ground so far as the heavier fields weren’t ready, but yields were good at 3.8t/ha and it all came in dry at 8% moisture.”

He was cutting a field of Excel for a neighbouring grower on heavier ground, which was averaging 5t/ha. “Hopefully, our heavier ground will give us a little bit extra.”

This week more money had been made by sitting in the office than the combine seat, he said. “The way the futures have been going on the back of the poor Russian harvest it’s been worth selling forward. I’ve sold 500t forward for 2011 and 2012 at £130/t ex-farm. The top and the bottom of the market is for fools and I can see a profit at that.”

Wheat will be ready to cut by the middle of next week, by which time the remaining oilseed rape and spring barley should be waiting. “It’ll all come at once and there will be some serious pressure to get in done. Bring it on, I say.”

Tony Reynolds

Autocast-established oilseed rape was returning pleasing yields at Thurlby Grange, Bourne, Lincolnshire, said Midlands Barometer Tony Reynolds. “It’s our first year using the Autocast unit mounted on the combine header and it’s returned better yields than last year.”

A 40ha block of Alienor returned 4.6t/ha and came in at 8% moisture. “We’re normally happy if we get 35cwt (1.8t) to the acre, so to do more than that with the Autocast, which has zero establishment costs, is great.” Hail storms had beaten a number of crops in the surrounding area, but he managed to get his in before the worst hit.

Wheat harvest started on Monday and by Tuesday (3 August) he was into his second field of Grafton. “The first 18-acre patch came in at 3.5t/acre, but the 22-acre field we’re in at the moment looks like it will do a bit better.” He planned to move into a 22ha plot of JB Diego that evening.”

All wheat ground had been replanted with Alienor oilseed rape using the Autocaster behind his 22ft Shelbourne Reynolds stripper header, he said. “It’s the first time we’ve started planting oilseed rape as early as 2 August and I must say I’m a little bit nervous – people have told me it could be flowering by Christmas.”

He favours Alienor for it’s early vigour, which suits the system and he is going to try some Sesame, too. “A bit of rain is forecast this evening, but it’s no bad think as it will get the rape going and it won’t harm anything else. I’d like to finish the JB Diego, but I think we’ll just run out of time.”

Once ready, Alchemy and Scout will be next on the agenda, followed by 20ha Firth spring oats and 30ha Fuego spring beans. “Hopefully, we’ll have finished combining by the end August/early September and all planting will be done by the end of September.”


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