Harvest Highlights: frustration grows as rain continues to halt progress

Yet more unsettled weather over the weekend and today (20 August) means it is almost a week since combines were last rolling in many areas.

Growers were becoming increasingly frustrated by the delays, and many feared what the impact would be on crop quality.

Yorkshire-based contractor Keith Snowball had managed to harvest just 35ha of Solstice winter wheat over the past 10 days, although hoped to start on the remaining area tomorrow, if it remained dry.

“There are lodged patches and we’re just starting to worry about sprouting. The crops are ripe and we’re probably three to four days behind the five-year average, but a little ahead of the 10-year average.”

In Bedfordshire crops were not showing any signs of drying, according to Tom Hipwell, who had managed to get just 1.5 days into the 202ha (500acres) of Robigus before rain stopped play a week ago.

“The straw was extremely green which slowed us down but the grain itself was ripe enough,” he commented.

The combine had not been out since last Friday (17 August) on George Brown’s farm near Newbury in Berkshire. He estimated progress was five or six days behind normal and he still had 61ha of Tipple spring barley and 45ha of wheat to cut.

“The wheat is only just fit and the barley looks well, so as long as the weather improves towards the end of the week things won’t be too bad.”

Norfolk farm John Kisby also hoped forecast better weather towards the end of the week would come, as two full days would be enough for him to complete harvest. “That would put us ahead of most years,” he said.

Of the 283ha (700 acres) of Alchemy, Einstein and Cordiale wheat, Mr Kisby had about 30ha (75 acres) left to cut. “It’s been standing up well but it just hasn’t filled out in the ear. However, quality has been about average and the Cordiale might make milling.”

* If you’ve got a harvest story then call us on 020 8652 4082. You can also get involved on the new FWiSpace forums where you can chat directly with other farmers and share the high and lows of what is shaping up to be a challenging summer.

You can also share your harvest pictures by sending them to us, to make sure they appear on our dedicated Harvest Highlights 2007 Picture Gallery.

If you prefer, we can set you up with your own gallery where you can upload pictures at any time to share them with other farmers.

We are hoping to print a selection of the best harvest pictures submitted each week in Farmers Weekly magazine. Please be aware that for use in the magazine we will need pictures to be taken using the highest quality setting on your camera.