Farmer Focus: Yields reap rewards of a good job

Back in the big green combine again. So far we have flown through the rape and slowly completed the barley, writes Simon Beddows. 

What follows is a true and accurate account of what went over the weighbridge. This is not to be confused with the enhanced account you may hear down the local pub, or the much more meagre figures used in discussions with the grain trade.

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There was much deliberation and visits to fields of both oilseed rape and barley before a decision was made to cut the rape on 15 July, which is pretty much the normal time here. I think the fact that thunderstorms were forecast for the end of the week helped with the decision.

The rape averaged 3.2t/ha – less than I expected, but there did seem a lot of small seeds this year. I have heard similar reports in this area and I was happy to blame it on flood-damaged crops and the higher proportion of rape grown on gravel soils.

On to the barley then: grain at 13% or less, but lots of green straw plus exceptional yields did mean it was slow-going.

The heat had dried the grain but the extra moisture was keeping the plants struggling along and still green in the bottom.

The average yield was 9t/ha. The hybrid Volume barley just hit 10t/ha and the best, Cassia, yielded 9.2t/ha. However, at current prices, the Volume actually has a lower margin than the Cassia due to the higher growing costs. I will try a small area of Volume once more this coming season to compare it with Glacier.

The first wheat was cut on 26 July. This was Crusoe, on some gravel soils, which achieved 10.2t/ha. It was followed by some Solstice on better ground, which also averaged just over 10t/ha.

Harvest is the culmination of a year’s sweat and tears and hopefully this one looks like a just reward for the team’s hard work.

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