Earliest wheat since 1976

Guy Smith has started combining winter wheat at Wigborowick Farm, St Osyth, Essex; his earliest start since 1976.

“We’ve pulled out of it today because it’s 16.5% moisture and we think it could be down to 15% tomorrow.

“But impatience will probably get the better of me and I’ll be back into it tonight; once I’ve started I just can’t leave it alone.”

So far the 4ha (10 acres) of Cordiale had yielded about average, with 11.2% protein, 385 Hagberg and 82kg/hl.

“We didn’t farm it for protein. Quality is good – although ear counts are low the grain size and density is very good.

“It’s also got a low DON (mycotoxin level), which is important, given the rain we’ve had in the past six weeks; we had three and a half inches in June and probably another two inches in July.

“It’s starting to get that grey, washed out look already, which is worrying.”

Yields were average, but Mr Smith reckoned he’d started in the better crops. “That said, we’ve pulled back from the brink of disaster we were facing six weeks ago.”

Oilseed rape yields had been above average, with winter barley below average. “But it sold for a good malting price.”

The Excalibur and Sequoia oilseed rape both did well on light land, while Winsome barley, on slightly heavier land, performed better than anticipated, with bold grains and 1.8% nitrogen.

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