Finally finished at Sheepdrove

Contractor George Brown has finally finished harvest at Sheepdrove Farm, Lambourn, Berkshire, and is now busy drilling wheat.

“We just had 16ha of wheat left to cut, but it wasn’t ripe before the weather broke,” he said. “It’s a pain when harvest drags on at this time of year, so we’re relieved to have got it cut.”

The organic Red Fife milling wheat yielded about average at 3t/ha, with a blend of other milling varieties, sown together, producing 5t/ha.

“It was a bit wet yesterday (25 September), at 22% moisture, but the forecast was for heavy rain so we needed to get it cut,” said Mr Brown. “It hadn’t chitted in the ear, but I don’t think it would have lasted much longer.”

Harvest at the home farm in Peasemore had been very average, with wheat yielding around 7.4t/ha and spring barley 6.8t/ha.

“Nothing’s been very special. The hot spell we had really knocked the crops hard; the spring barley looked absolutely brilliant, but it just didn’t yield.”

However, given the wheat had been drilled in December, and the barley took five weeks to come through the ground, Mr Brown was taking a relatively phlegmatic view.

“The wheat was almost non-existent coming out of the winter. Given the year that we’ve had, the yields have been exceptional, really. It’s just been the second bad year on the trot.”

Fortunately, the ground was working down well, and Mr Brown had now got 243ha of oats, oilseed rape and winter wheat drilled.

“It’s been very foggy in the mornings, so we haven’t been able to get on very early, but another two or three good days and we’ll be up to speed.”

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