Desperate in the South West

Wheat quality and yields in the West Country are extremely disappointing, with very little reaching the required specification.

“To say that it’s negative is understating it – the wheat is disappointing at best and almost heartbreaking at worst,” said Ian Eastwood, marketing manager at West Country Grain.

Some crops were yielding below 5t/ha, with bushel weights of 60kg/hl and below, while others were just touching 7.4t/ha, at 68-70kg/hl.

“There’s no rhyme or reason to it – the agronomists aren’t at fault. It was just the wet July and lack of sun.

“The crops looked okay in the field, but on closer inspection they are dead in the top of the head.”

Some of the older varieties had held up better than the newer ones, said Mr Eastwood. “Claire and Diego have done well, while Einstein, Cordiale and Solstice are okay.”

Mycotoxin levels had been fine, although farmers would have to be careful when drying wet crops after harvest, said Mr Eastwood.

Oats had performed reasonably well, and spring barley was bright and bold, albeit with a few skinned and split grains.

“Winter barley quality was alright too, especially where we can blend and improve the sample in store.

“On average, it’s been a pretty poor harvest, but prices are compensating for some of that. Where we go from here is anybody’s guess, because we’ve got more rain forecast.

“It’s not a disaster yet, but it could become one if this rain doesn’t let up.”

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