Recent rain has brought harvest to a halt across much of the UK, but so far both progress and yields have been generally pleasing.
In north-east England and southern Scotland, growers have cut about 65% of their winter barley, with many reporting the best yields ever, said Gary Bright at GrainCo.
“It isn’t unusual to hear 10t/ha – in a normal year 8.6t/ha would be pretty good but this year that would be disappointing,” he says.
Oilseed rape harvest is about 20% complete and looking promising, with early crops of oats and winter wheat looking good.
“Agronomists are saying that the wheat has great potential – we just need the weather to hold, and hope that the forecast rain over the next 24 hours isn’t as bad as predicted,” he adds.
In Lincolnshire, David Pridgeon has just started his wheat harvest at Willow Farm, Skegness. Yields were very good at over 9.88t/ha but crops were not particularly fit.
“We have cut some Skyfall and Gallant – the Skyfall is doing somewhat better with bushel weights coming in at 83kg/hl,” says Mr Pridgeon.
Oilseed rape has produced good yields so far, but there was still more to cut as some was not sprayed off until two weeks ago.
Even so, Mr Pridgeon says it has been a good start to harvest so far. “We have peas, which are ripening rapidly, and spring wheat; both should be ready by the end of the month,” he says.
Yields were up and crops were meeting the necessary specification for James Fuggle at Chessons Farm, Wadhurst, East Sussex.
“Harvest has gone very well indeed. Panorama wheat has yielded 11t/ha, it is full of protein and is lovely stuff,” he says.
Spring barley yielded 8t/ha and was all of malting quality and progress has gone very well.
The variety Propino averaged 8-8.5t/ha, to full malting specification and has produced a beautiful bold sample. “The price situation is the only real concern,” he says.
In Oxfordshire, growers have been frantically trying to get crops in before the rain, said independent grain trader Robert Kerr.
So far about 30% of the wheat crop had been cut, and generally speaking, yields had been phenomenal.
“Quality has been off-the-scale good, with bushel weights at 80-82kg/hl, hagbergs over 350 and protein contents holding up exceptionally well despite the yields,” he says.
Oilseed rape and winter barley yields had generally been very good, too, and spring barley looked extremely promising, adds Mr Kerr. As a result, prices were under intense pressure.
“There’s a lot of wheat to come to the market in a six-week period and there’s not a lot of storage capacity at the moment, so spot prices are heavily discounted,” he says.
In Hampshire, the wheat harvest has gone well for Tim Sykes at Denmead Farm, just north of Portsmouth, and Crusoe had met milling quality with bushel weights of 83kg/hl and moistures of 14.5%.
Incentive oilseed rape had yielded around 4.69t/ha and Extrovert on lighter land had averaged 3.95t/ha. “I am very happy overall and things have gone well indeed,” says Mr Sykes.
He has around 24ha of barley, 24ha of Crusoe wheat and 36ha of linseed left to cut.
“The spring barley is looking very good in the field but it is hard to tell with the linseed. There is no panic to get things in at the moment,” adds Mr Sykes.
Rain was hampering progress in Somerset for Richard Payne at Manor Farm, Heathfield, near Taunton.
“There is around 28ha of wheat left to cut but so far second wheats have done as well as first wheat, coming in at 11t/ha,” he says.
Trinity oilseed rape had achieved 5.38t/ha and Extrovert had yielded 4.39-4.79t/ha as it was on less kind ground.
Mr Payne had 8ha of spring barley left to cut and 40ha of Wizard winter beans but he was not worried as the crops were all standing.
“We are just trying to be patient with the weather at the moment – it has been good to get crops in early,” he says.