Harvest highlights

Send us your views on harvest progress/prospects: Karen.Willmer@rbi.co.uk

Drought is the major concern among growers in the south with results generally no better than average, although there have been some exceptions.

Indications are that the earlier-than-usual harvest may be reducing the quality of some crops.

That’s a concern for John Beslee in Kent, where the wheat harvest began two weeks early. “The crop is lighter than last year and the grain is small.”

Results were also “disappointing” for Joss Stratton in Wiltshire after his Pict barley was “very light” with a bushel weight of only 61kg/hl. It also yielded 1t/ha less than last year. He had hoped for much better.

For William Emmett in Maidenhead where his oilseed rape crop had yielded well despite the 6-7% moisture levels, “the size of the seed is poor”.

His harvest was “at least ten days earlier than normal”.

However some growers have been pleased that the hot weather has avoided the need for dyring, saving on fuel costs.

Berkshire farmer Chris Smith finished a “fantastic” 200ha winter barley harvest at 9t/ha. He said: “It was nice not to have to dry anything.”

See below for full regional reports and watch out for FWi’s full Harvest Highlights section coming very soon.


John Beeslee, Kent
The wheat harvest began “two weeks earlier than ever before”, said John Beslee of Hook Green Farm in Southfleet, Kent.

After two days, 48ha of Cordiale was coming off at 7.5t/ha. The lack of rain has been a major concern.

“The crop is lighter than last year and the grain is small, and not filled out.”

Twenty-four hectares of oilseed rape was cut at 3t/ha which was “all we ever do, maybe slightly better”.

But Mr Beslee is worried by the low prices for the 2005 harvest.

“We are very unsure whether to continue farming next year. We are making no money.”

Charlie Watson-Smyth, Cornwall
“We are looking at a very good harvest” said Charlie Watson-Smyth in Padstow, Cornwall.

The 52ha of Antonia winter barley was coming off at 6.8t/ha, which was “very good because last year was disastrous”, he said.

He was also “pleased” with the bushel weight of 70kg/hl, considering “it is only for feed”.

The straw yield of 5t/ha will be a bonus to the bottom line, he added. “It is worth a fortune down here.”

The winter barley harvest should be completed in the next few days, he confirmed.

Bernard Cox, Dorset
Bernard Cox in Dorchester, Dorset said: “It’s all going alright and doesn’t look too bad.”

Having cut 80ha of Carat winter barley, the results were “average”. He was pleased, however, that it was all coming in dry.

He also said the 120ha of Winner oilseed rape “looked ok”.

“As long as the sun stays shining things will be ok. We’ll just have to see what happens.”

William Emmett, Berks
Conditions have been “very dry this season” in Maidenhead, William Emmett from Hornbuckle Farm said.

The 100ha of oilseed rape came off at 3.4t/ha. “It looks as though there is a high yield but the seed size is poor.”

He also described the quality as “lower than expectations” because the harvest was “at least 10 days earlier than normal”.

Mr Emmett’s drought concerns are evidenced by the 6-7% moisture levels.

“Things could be very disappointing this year.”

Chris Smith, Berks
“It has been a fantastic year and hopefully it will last,” were the positive words from Chris Smith in Berkshire.

He finished a 200ha winter barley harvest at 9t/ha, which was a rise of 0.5t/ha on last year.

He was “very pleased” with the bushel weight of 72kg/hl for variety Carat.

But the 61kg/hl weight for 25ha of Siberia was “a bit of an issue” however it was “only our first year” for the crop.

With the barley coming in at 13½% moisture, he said: “It was nice not to have to dry anything.”

Joss Stratton, Wilts
“Things have been very disappointing,” said Joss Stratton in Wiltshire after cutting 270ha of barley.

The Pict came out at 7.5t/ha which was “much lower than expected”, and down on the 8.5t/ha from last year.

He said: “It looked like it would yield much higher, so it was disappointing for us.”

The 61kg/hl was “very light”, but he was happy with the amount of straw.

“The rest of the crops are looking promising at the moment,” he added.

Tom Coleman, Hants
There is a “fine outlook” for Tom Coleman on Lower Norton Farm in Winchester.

The Pearl winter barley was cutting at just under 7.5t/ha, which he said was “pretty average”.

With the moisture at around 14%, he was “fairly pleased”.

The oilseed rape “looks fine” and he was hoping to start cutting this week.

“Things are looking fairly promising, but only time will tell,” Mr Coleman commented.

Martin Boulden, Kent
“The crops came along quicker but the hot weather hasn’t affected the quality,” said Martin Boulden from Aldington, Kent.

The 280ha of Canberra oilseed rape was coming off at 3.75t/ha and “looked good with no problems”.

At 9% moisture the crop was “not too bad” and Mr Boulden was expecting “an average year” for the crop.


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