Farmer Focus: Barley yields surprise, but OSR slow to start

Finally harvest 2015 got under way at Lower Hope Farms at the end of July, after a frustrating two weeks of cold, wet weather.

There is only so much preparation that can be done and some things still get forgotten. 

Winter barley was the first to be cut. The Glacier feed barley has performed well, achieving 9.6t/ha and 70 bushel weight. Our Maris Otter malting barley has also exceeded our expectations, averaging 6.8t/ha.

See also: Read more from our arable Farmer Focus writers

Now we just have to hope the nitrogen content is below the desired 1.6%, which is always a challenge on our strong land.

The excellent barley yield reports have been echoed round the country and without sounding a pessimist, I am sure it will have an influence on price, even though we are in a global market, and the winter barley area will increase next year.

The oilseed rape harvest is imminent and the yield potential looks good, but looks can be deceiving. Even though some fields have been sprayed off three or four weeks ago, they are only just ready. 

The new combine is performing well – output has been doubled, we get a cleaner sample and the hillside facility is having a positive effect on losses on our undulating terrain.

It has taken time to set up and get used to the machine, but we are getting there. This experience has helped me relate to Keith Challen’s most recent article.

I was recently terribly saddened to hear of the loss of Alan Dimbelby in a tragic sprayer accident. Alan used to carry out the crop assurance inspection and some spraying for us on the family farm in Kent.

My heartfelt condolences go to Alan’s family. As we all come into our busy time of year, staying safe at harvest has to be a priority.

Hopefully by the time you read this the oilseed rape will be cut and we will be into some wheat. Our good friends Tom and Zoe will also be married, so a huge congratulations to them. 

Jack Hopkins is the assistant farm manager on a 730ha estate in North Herefordshire on predominantly silty clay loam soils. Cropping includes wheat, barley, oilseed rape, spring oats and peas, plus grassland that supports a flock of 1,000 ewes and 25 pedigree Hereford cattle.


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