Harvest 2015: Rain halts combines as first wheat is cut

Farmer Peter Lamb harvesting

Oilseed rape harvest is under way in the South, but rain has hampered progress today.

“So far there has been a promising start to harvest south of the M4, with Kent and Sussex showing better results than last year,” said Owen Cligg, trading manager at United Oilseeds. 

Although yields were variable, the best so far topped 4t/ha, so he expected to beat last year’s average at around 3.6-3.7t/ha.

See also: The latest Harvest 2015 news 

“I would say there has been less than 5% cut so far,” said Mr Cligg.

“The southern harvest is largely ready to go now, but there’s nothing really cut above Warwickshire. Early indications of oil contents are good.”

East Anglia

Winter barley harvest had got off to a good start in Norfolk, according to Andrew Dewing at Dewing Grain.

“Feed barley is performing well, averaging around 10t/ha.”

Malting barley had had some trouble with screenings on lighter land, but nitrogen levels were low, he added.

“Some in the west of Norfolk are struggling to get retention up to the 80% threshold.”

Mr Dewing was slightly worried about spring barley due to the weather, with the crop getting off to a slow start and being hit by the heatwave at the wrong time.

What I have seen has been thin and variable so I’m nervous about the quality.”

Wheat was about a week behind normal, and Mr Dewing reckoned some crops may have to be cut damp as on light land crops were suffering from the earlier heat wave.

Oilseed rape had just started to come in, yielding better than expected, but there were fears over the storms as the pods were ready and might be brittle.

“So far oils have been good and we have seen large seeds,” he added.

Richard Solari cutting Tower winter barley at Heath House Farm, Beckbury in Shropshire. The crop came off at 9.45t/ha at 15% moisture and the Claas Tucano 440 is driven by Matt Williams.

Richard Solari cutting Tower winter barley at Heath House Farm, Beckbury in Shropshire. The crop came off at 9.45t/ha at 15% moisture and the Claas Tucano 440 is driven by Matt Williams.

South West

In the South West, winter barley was very good quality so far, according to Ian Eastwood at West Country Grain.

“About 20-30% has been cut, producing pleasing yields of 8-9t/ha, but unfortunately the weather has turned and it is very wet now.”

Oilseed rape harvest was slightly behind normal and was coming in at about 2.5-3.5t/ha, 9-11% moisture and very good oil content.

“There is a little bit of wheat about but most is a week to 10 days off being ready,” he added.

In Wiltshire, Paul Garfoot, farm manager at Knighton Manor Farm, Broad Chalke, had cut 30ha of KWS Tower winter barley at around 7.5-8.5t/ha.

The oilseed rape harvest had produced a clean sample with 175ha of Quartz, Charger and KWS Picto averaging about 3.5t/ha.

“There is still 280ha of rape to cut and 405ha of winter wheat, which is just starting to turn and is looking good,” said Mr Garfoot.

“The main focus is 405ha of spring barely which is starting to turn. It needs some hot weather to get it going but should be ready around 10 August.”


In Worcestershire, winter barley harvest was completed on Tuesday (21 July) just before the rain, said Andrew Symonds at Lincomb Farms, Stourport on Severn.

“We had three really good days of harvesting, managing to cut all 40ha and we got all of the straw baled too,” he said.

“I was very pleased with the yield, which was better than last year, averaging 8.3t/ha.” Nitrogen levels were good at 1.35%, 60-65kg/hl, with good retention and moisture at 13.5%.

“The spring barley looks good and should be ready in two to three weeks time. It’s ahead of the winter wheat which looks to be three to four weeks away.”

South East

In the South East, harvest kicked off in earnest last week with feed barley and oilseed rape being cut dry, said John Smith at Weald Granary. 

“Harvest is 10 days later than last year but yields are average to good.”

Daytona peas had been cut in the area, testing at 15.3% moisture with a good even colour, he added.

“Wheat started this week with a chunk of Cordiale off light land in Dartford, Kent testing 14.5% moisture, 300 Hagberg, 12% protein and 80kg/hl with better proteins on the heavier land,” said Mr Smith.  

“A number of our customers are due to start wheat, but due to the rain harvest will only really get into full swing at end of July/first week in August.”


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