End of cereal harvest in sight as maincrop potato lifting begins

The end of cereal harvest was in sight for Northern and Scottish growers today (September 7), but potato producers were just making a start on their maincrop varieties across the rest of the country.

In Kelso, Stuart Fuller-Shapcott hoped to finish his Alchemy winter wheat, which had been disappointing, on Sunday September 9).

And in Aberdeenshire Nick Davidson expected to finish his Riband winter wheat today, with some very pleasing yields of over 9.9t/ha (4t/acre).

But the combine was sidelined at Doug Fowlie’s Milhill Farm, Peterhead, where he was waiting for spring barley to ripen.

“We’re fairly behind the last three or four years, when we finished harvest in August,” he said. “It will be September 15 before we finish, which would be about average over the longer term.”

Further south, Yorkshire contractor Keith Snowball was pleased with his Solstice milling wheat, which averaged 8.9t/ha (3.6t/acre), leaving just 12ha (30 acres) of spring barley to cut for a customer.

But in Norfolk this harvest was one that David Cargill would like to forget. Wheat yields had been 20-25% down, and his potatoes had suffered from rots due to the wet weather.

He expected the potatoes that were left to yield about 10% down on average.

In contrast, potato growers in Pembrokeshire had enjoyed some reasonable weather, according to Puffin Produce’s Barry Gaskell. Harvest was a little earlier than normal, and yields were averaging about 54t/ha (22t/acre).

Conditions had dried out so much that they were now talking of irrigating next week before lifting.


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