Farmer Focus: Frustrating pea harvest prompts crop review

I ended my previous article in late August by saying how dry it had been, but since then we have received 100mm of rain and nothing seems to get a chance to dry out.

On 21 August, we only had 160ha of combining left. Now we still have 36ha left, with the last 120ha having taken four weeks to harvest.

Wheat harvest was only completed on 23 September. Our main focus until then had been our 40ha of peas, trying to cut them while the sun was out.

See also: Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers

We still have 12ha of these left to cut and after the problems they have caused us at harvest this year, we are seriously reconsidering growing them again, particularly after digging 100kg of soil out of the unloading auger.

Although this has been immensely frustrating, it has not been as bad as what the Irish and Northern Irish farmers have been experiencing.

Oilseed rape drilling was completed on 2 September – the earliest we have finished for a number of years.

This is all establishing well and most now have two true leaves. However, slugs have been an ongoing battle and have had an effect on plants/sq m – so much so that the middle of one field has been redrilled.

Our direct drilling exploration continues again this year, with oilseed rape being drilled on one of our more varied and difficult fields.

So far it has established well and there are already more plants/sq m than last year. I hope to follow this up next year by direct drilling wheat on the same field. 

Wheat drilling started on 17 September, but with ground conditions as they are, it already feels as if we are mudging it in, particularly as we don’t seem to be able to follow the drill with the rolls consecutively.

However, it has not all been doom and gloom, as yields have been slightly better than average which, all things considered, is pleasing.


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.