Farmer Focus: Lack of sunshine limited wheat grain fill

To quote someone on social media, “it’s been the driest, wettest harvest” for some time. Our moisture meter seems to have been stuck on 17% for weeks, and it doesn’t seem to matter what crop you try.

August for us was drier than average but, like everyone else, we lacked any sunshine.

Our new flat store for grain was completed just in time for wheat harvest, but it was a week before we had anything dry enough to tip in there.

See also: Harvest 2021: Yields look good in North England and Scotland

About the author

Jack Hopkins
Arable Farmer Focus writer
Jack Hopkins is farm manager on a 730ha AHDB Monitor Farm 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.
Read more articles by Jack Hopkins

Logistics have been something of a challenge as we tried to clear the drying floors quick enough to keep cutting. In the end we came to the conclusion that we would just get it cut and deal with it afterwards.

The brilliance of Facebook Marketplace allowed me to snap up a second-hand larger-capacity grain bucket that has been a godsend for our logistics operation of moving wheat around the yard.

Wheat harvest is now complete, with mixed results. Overall it looked better than it performed. I think lack of sunshine at grain fill has just kept the grain weight low. Our specific weights have typically been around 75-77kg/hl rather than the more typical 78-80kg/hl.

The wheat blend trial we carried out on farm looks to have slightly out-yielded the straight variety in a split field comparison.

All the inputs were kept the same over the whole field. Whether it can be classed as a significant increase, only further analysis will tell.

In addition to this, a tramline of the blend was left untreated from fungicides and this saw a reduction in yield of 1.25t/ha from the treated.

Hopefully, the yield map will give an interesting insight into the trial and will lead to a good discussion at our Monitor Farm meetings.

The OSR now seems to be motoring away and hopefully is now well established and won’t be bothered by the you-know-what if they decide to show up.

With springs oats and spring linseed left to cut, the end is in sight. Fingers crossed for a kind autumn, so we can all have another go at trying to get it right next year.

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