Farmer Focus: Winter barley yields fall, but wheat is average

The winter barley report card is in. Much as expected, there’s not a lot of grain or straw, and yields are 30% down on our five-year average.

The cost of production has exceeded the sale price by a considerable sum this year, but this is the risk we take when planting any crop. 

Plant with care, nurture and nurse. We can use the most expensive inputs, but then nature takes over and either delights or disappoints us.  

See also: Harvest 2020: Wheat early quality looks good as yields slide

A better report and much more positive is the early-harvested wheat. At the point of writing, this has been encouraging, with average yields, good proteins, fantastic bushels and great hagbergs. No doubt this is a reflection of the decent June and early July rain. 

This has led to “catchy” being the best description of cereal harvest 2020, with no July finish for us this year.

The showers have, however, been much appreciated by the actively growing sugar beet and forage maize. Let us hope the rest of the summer can sustain both crops and help deliver decent results. 

Cover crops, sown after harvested carrots, potatoes and cereals, have emerged rapidly as a result of the moisture and are now actively growing in an attempt to get ahead of the ever-active flea beetle.

I always reckon that if we can get these crops in by the end of the first week in August, they won’t disappoint us. 

I hope you all managed to complete your response to the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme consultation before the end of July deadline – after all, if we do not tell them what we want, how on earth will they ever know? 

Out here on the Brecks, as part of our Breckland Farmers Wildlife Network, we are continuing to take part in one of the ELM scheme test and trials. This is a one-year test to see how well we can work together to deliver landscape-scale results.

It is quite a challenge to enrol, but thanks to Rob Hawkes from the University of East Anglia, perseverance won through the bureaucracy. Now all we have to do is meet our set milestones and deliver on the objectives. Quite a lot like the day job, really.