Farmer Focus: Sluggish harvest means there is still plenty to cut

To sum up the five weeks since my last article, it has been very frustrating. The weather, as everyone has been reporting, has put a stop to any real harvest progress in the last three weeks. 

We did manage to start the wheat harvest on 18 August but up until then, here in the West, the wheat just wasn’t quite fit.

Since then, in a period of three weeks, we have only managed to cut another 8ha of wheat leaving us with a further 328ha still left to cut at the time of writing this.

One of our most limiting factors is that all of our wheat and oilseed rape is stored at a local farmer-owned and run grain storage syndicate.

See also: Read more from our arable Farmer Focus writers

Although this does have many advantages, using it in a wet harvest is not one of them with drying charges and weight losses to incur.

On a more positive note yields, as many others have been reporting, have been very pleasing and what we have cut is doing over 10t/ha – a figure that is well over the farm’s average. 

We have managed to drill 30ha of oilseed rape, which is up and got its first true leaf in places, however we have yet to cut another 50ha before we can drill any more by which time it may be too late anyway.

Having incurred these type of harvests in all four years since I have been at Lower Hope Farm, I have come to the conclusion that having a really good autumn is absolutely paramount to being in the position that we are this year with the yields. 

With this in mind we need to structure our operations and our cropping so that it gives us the best opportunity to be able to achieve our establishment targets, even in a catchy season.

This could potentially mean earlier maturing crops and less spring cropping, particularly in this part of the country.

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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