Farmer Focus: Setting a record for most wheat combined

Harvest is progressing well and we have cut more wheat this August than in any season since I started at Lower Hope, with the added bonus of it being dry.

We managed to beat a record at Lower Hope by cutting 39ha in a single day. The machine is more than capable of achieving this, but our smaller-than-average field sizes does not lend itself to clearing large areas, so we are very pleased with this achievement. 

This was helped by the fact we did not have to take the header off for two whole days.

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Barley yields are way down and have low specific weights, reflecting the trend across the rest of the country.

Our Marris Otter malting barley did not make malting due to poor retention. It did, however, have a surprisingly good specific weight of 66kg/hl.

The dilemma continues of whether to keep growing the variety, but hitting the malting spec in only one in three years still makes it justifiable.

Oilseed rape was just slightly better than average. Yield mapping has been used this year for the first time and has shown some interesting results. We now need to make sure we use this data to our benefit.

A home-made cover crop mix has gone in to see how we get on, but most of our spring-cropping land will be going into stubble turnips.

However, I am worried about the build-up of clubroot, so we are looking for other alternatives that still offer good feed value.

The summer has been very dry, with a total rainfall of only 18mm in July and August to date.

Consequently, the ground was very dry and to quite a depth, so we held off drilling oilseed rape until this week, when the rain arrived. We have just started drilling our first field as I write, and so it all starts again.


Jack Hopkins is the assistant farm manager on a 730 ha (1,804 acres) estate in North Herefordshire on predominantly silty clay loam soils. Cropping includes wheat, barley, oilseed rape, spring oats and peas, plus grassland which supports a flock of 1,000 ewes and 25 pedigree Hereford cattle.

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