FARMER FOCUS: Harvest’s better late than never

Harvest, the culmination of a year’s work and something I, like many other farmers, usually look forward to. However, this year I think most of us just want to get it over and done with as quickly as possible so that we can start again.

Winter barley more often than not will kick-off in the second week in July for us, but like last year we were still waiting more than two weeks later. In fact, the combine eventually rolled out on 1 August, the latest that I have ever started on winter barley.

The intense heat may have helped the barley but for all the other crops it was the final nail in the coffin. Wet soil earlier in the growing season led to shallow roots, which saw crops on the gravel wilt away and die, rather than ripen.

The spring beans, which had looked very promising, just look like they have been sprayed off with a herbicide. Still, mustn’t grumble at least we will have something to run the combine over.

This year one of my on-farm trials was a split field of Cassia winter barley versus Syngenta’s hybrid variety Volume. It has been an interesting comparison with the Volume greening up earlier in the spring and producing much bigger leaves.

The Volume certainly had the edge on disease resistance earlier in the season, but I think the Cassia just had the edge after ear emergence.

So the real test is harvest. It needs 0.5t/ha hectare to pay for the seed. Weights over the weight bridge gave an advantage to the Volume of 0.83t/ha from a 10.13t/ha yield. The Cassia produced a very respectable 9.3t/ha.

At the time of writing, we are nearing completion of the winter barley with an average yield of 8t/ha. However, the fields that were drilled after the rain in early October are yielding 5.5t/ha.

Winter oilseed rape harvest should begin, weather permitting, in the week commencing 5 August.

May I wish you all a swift and easy harvest with hopefully some reasonable yields.

Simon Beddows manages 1,000ha of arable land at Dunsden Green, south Oxfordshire. Cropping is cereals, oilseed rape, beans and forage maize

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