Farmer Focus Arable: Wet start to harvest for Richard Beachell

Despite the promise of a summer scorcher, we had rain on St Swithun’s day and it’s been a showery start to harvest.

My hope is for wall to wall sunshine and zero rainfall until 1 September, and then half an inch of overnight rain a week to soften the ground for some ideal seed-beds.

Our vining peas gave excellent yields, although an overturned lorry meant that a few tonnes of premium crop ended up on the floor rather than in the freezer. Thankfully nobody was hurt, although the tanker driver had a rather red face as he emerged from the cab with everything but his dignity intact.

Oilseed rape has been swathed by contractor Andrew Middlewood whose area to swath this season has halved as more farmers seem to be desiccating.

We still view a swathed crop as easier to manage and much more weather-proof, especially given the superb job that Andrew does.

Winter barley yields also look very promising and quality is good.

Rapid movement off the farm is essential before our wheat becomes ready. Gleadell have been excellent at this over the years and will no doubt come up trumps again – but I’ve threatened the firm with severe criticism in this column if grain’s stuck in the shed for too long.

This is a good time of year to assess weed control. Overall I would score it 8.5 out of 10, a big improvement over recent years.

Only the odd patch of late emerging loose silky bent spoils some very clean crops, and fewer hours have had to be spent roguing fields for the odd brome and blackgrass plants.

New brews will need to be concocted this autumn as some herbicides have been phased out, and chlorotoluron will make a comeback as part of our armoury.

See more