Harvest 09: Torrential rain in Wilts

Torrential rain in Wiltshire today has destroyed any chances of combining until at least the weekend, according to Martin Smart at P&J Awdry & Son.

With today’s (6 August) rain on top of more than 25mm yesterday, roads were flooded, crops were soaked, and ground conditions were poor, he said.

“The forecast was fine – but it’s pouring. Some of the rape has been sprayed off for up to four weeks and things are starting to get desperate.”

Mr Smart had managed to cut about 162ha (400 acres) of oilseed rape at Ashton Farms, Trowbridge, and yields had been reasonable.

Labrador and Kalif had averaged 3.7-4t/ha (1.5-1.6t/acre), while Splendour had disappointed at 3t/ha (1.2t/acre) on some thin soil.

A trial of 12 different varieties over 26ha (64 acres) had produced one exceptional result – Pioneer W21, which yielded over 6t/ha (2.4t/acre). Mercure, Cubic and Dimension had also done well, he added.

With a large area of share farming and a contracting operation, Mr Smart had 235ha (580 acres) of rape left to cut before moving onto wheat and winter beans.

“There has been some wheat cut around us, but harvest is only about 10% through in the area.”

Generally, the crops were still standing and looking good, apart from one field of Alchemy, which was starting to go flat and grow out, he said.

Fortunately, the business had four combines – two of which were tracked – a Godsend in this weather.

“Having over 30m of combine capacity keeps the trailer men busy, along with the grain plant staff having to deal with a wide range of moistures. But at the moment they are all just sat up on different holdings.”

Crop: Oilseed rape
Varieties: Labrador and Kalif
Area: 162ha (400 acres)
Yield: 3.7-4t/ha (1.5-1.6t/acre)

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Duxford winter wheat is an HGCA Recommended List 2009/10 variety with very high UK treated yields and a maximum 9 rating for resistance to lodging with and without PGR. Combined with the highest second wheat yield and a balanced disease resistance profile, Duxford will continue to help UK growers meet the challenge of producing more grain profitably.

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