Combine drive into oilseed rape was unexpected

After a slightly frustrating start to harvest, with no winter barley to cut and hiccups with his brand new combine, John Barrett was well into the 222ha (550 acres) of Castille, Es Astrid and Lioness oilseed rape at Hill House Farm, Hedenham, Suffolk, by the start of the week.

“I didn’t expect to be driving a combine, but we had a few teething problems with our Lexion 580 30ft cut – to do with a pulley bearing and a hydraulic ram,” he said.

“Claas has been very good and brought us another machine, a 480, to help catch up.”

Direct cutting began in earnest only at the weekend after desiccation about 10 days earlier with 3litres/ha of Clinic (glyphosate) + 0.25litres/ha of Campanion Gold adjuvant and water treatment.

With about a quarter of the crop cut, but the combine yield meter yet to be calibrated and deliveries to Harlow Agricultural Merchants only just starting, it was too soon to call yields, said Mr Barrett.

“The main thing is it’s dry, which, with diesel the price it is, should allow us to make some good savings.

“We started at 11% moisture, but it was soon down to 8.5%.”

The farm escaped the heavy storms that hit other parts of the country over the weekend.

“It pelted down at Norwich, which is only 12 miles away.”

Combine aside, the only slight downside has been his decision to sell half the crop forward at £140/t.

“We budget for £150/t and with oil bonuses, we should get there, and we’ll still have 50% at the [higher] market price.”

Weather permitting, Mr Barrett hoped to finish the oilseed rape by yesterday.

“If we don’t get any rain, we will move straight into the wheats.

They have held on well on the heavy land, but the light land ones have suffered.

“We’ve had no rain for eight weeks and any from now on will be far too late to help.”