Harvest 2015 round-up: Rain sees grain quality sink in stop-start combining

Milling wheat and malting barley crops are being downgraded to feed quality across many areas of the UK after prolonged rainy weather.

Crops in southern regions are suffering from lodging, brackling, discolouration and sprouting, while wheat hagberg levels are dropping, says the latest Adas report on harvest progress.

See also: 60% of wheat harvested in UK, 30% of spring barley cut


Most of the wheat harvested in Hampshire recently has been downgraded to feed, says Mike Clay, store manager at Hampshire Grain Co-op.

“Hagbergs are down to between 62 and 100 seconds on all varieties and bushel weights are dropping, with nothing coming in below 20-25% moisture,” he says.

Spring barleys are sprouting badly and suffering from fusarium, so there will be no more malting barley to harvest, while some of the spring oats crop is badly discoloured and has sprouted.

“There is just no good news; everybody has had enough now”
Mike Clay, Hampshire Grain Co-op

“It looked to be a very promising harvest but unfortunately it has turned into a nightmare.

“There is just no good news; everybody has had enough now,” he says.

There were a couple of dry days in a row but there is just not enough sunshine so moisture contents are not falling below 20%, says Mr Clay.

South West

Harvest has become a rescue operation for David Shepherd at Baltic Farm, near Devizes, Wiltshire, as most of his wheat is still in the field and has lost its milling quality.

“I have cut about 25% overall but only 5% of my own 182ha. It is barely fit but has already germinated,” he says.

The straw is still green in places and Mr Shepherd will be cutting at under 20% moisture for the first time on Friday (4 September).

“There is a lot still to cut in the area and it has all lost quality.

“It was fantastic a few weeks ago but harvest is now a rescue mission,” he says.


In Shropshire, all of Duncan Whiteman’s wheat crop has been downgraded to feed at Arlescott Farm near Telford.

“I have 145ha of Diego, Reflection, Skyfall and Savannah to cut and the quality is disappearing quickly now,” he says.

However, Mr Whiteman says his other crops have done well, with California winter barley yielding 7.4t/ha, his oilseed rape achieving 4.4t/ha and Mascani winter oats yielding about 9t/ha.

“There is not much fun in the job, it is very frustrating,” he adds.

North Wales

Harvest has been a very stop-start affair for Glynn Jones, a contractor near Plas-yr-Esgob, St Asaph, North Wales.

“We have not had two full dry days together; it is very irritating. Otherwise, crops are doing well,” he says

“We have not had two full dry days together; it is very irritating. Otherwise, crops are doing well”
Glynn Jones

Mr Jones adds that he is well into wheat harvest and if the weather holds he could have it wrapped up in a week to 10 days.

“Diego is doing well, same as normal, with some doing over 10t/ha,” he says.

Quality looks good and there are no worries about bushel weights but the crops need taking off now as the odd bit is starting to go black.

“The next week is going to be crucial to keep tonnage and bushel weights up,” says Mr Jones.

North East

The weather is still hampering progress in Tyne and Wear, according to Dave Young at GrainCo, South Shields.

“Harvest is just limping along at the moment, with only 30% of the wheat cut, but it is yielding well,” he says.

First wheats are yielding about 11t/ha with Revelation performing particularly well, and second wheats are doing nicely.

“There has been a fair amount of Skyfall milling wheat in, yielding exceptionally well but proteins have been around 10% which is very disappointing as it does not meet milling quality,” says Mr Young.

Not much spring barley has come off yet, but all the winter oats are in and in good condition, with yields about 9t/ha.

“Progress has just been slow as there have not been many full combining days,” he adds.

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