Harvest Highlights – Indifferent yields for early wheat crops

Indifferent yields and variable quality are being reported as more of the wheat crop in southern and eastern England was harvested today. But wet weather was still holding up farmers in other areas.

Not particularly good, but better than feared was how Grainfarmers’ Paul Taylor summarised wheat harvest so far. “Farmers in the south of the country – Oxfordshire down to the south coast – are well into the wheat and generally it’s disappointing.”

His eastern region colleague Stephen Howlett thought wheat yields might be 10-15% down, although he stressed it was still early to call definitively.

Ben Atkinson, Farmers Weekly’s Midlands barometer farmer, was also finding yields down. Both Humber and Richmond were delivering 1t/ha less than his 10t/ha average, thanks to the dry April.

After his combine driver was taken to hospital John Barrett found himself at the wheel on Tuesday morning with about 20% of the 546ha (1350 acres) of winter wheat done.
“It’s going really well – we’ve cut nothing over 17% moisture. But the bushel weights do seem low.”

Norfolk grower Martin Spence was busy combining Einstein wheat this morning in “brilliant” conditions. But he didn’t expect it to break any records.

Elsewhere crops were either not fit or was too wet to combine. Phil Dowson of Richmond in North Yorkshire was ploughing set-aside land while waiting for 49ha (120 acres) of Alchemy, Robigus and Zebedee to ripen.

David Down from Honiton in Devon was waiting for better weather – hopefully this afternoon – to start cutting wheat. “As soon as the moisture content comes down and when the sun shines we’ll combine,” he said.

He had been pleased with 3.7t/ha yields from Castille oilseed rape, which had made £186/t plus oil bonuses.

Less happy with oilseed rape was Pat Grant of Willingham, near Market Rasen in Lincolnshire. Yields were below 3.75t/ha, and combining had been difficult on wet ground.

Scottish grower Ian Davidson was happy to have finished oilseed rape with neighbours yet to finish. “It is a good feeling to have done what we have.”

But wet weather yesterday (6 August) in Aberdeenshire had now delayed winter wheat and spring barley combining.

Also waiting for better weather was Gerald Erwin in Co Antrim. He was busy preparing grain stores while waiting for the weather to improve.

* If you’ve got a harvest story then call our dedicated harvest reporter David Kemp on 020 8652 4073. 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 david.kemp@rbi.co.uk who will 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.

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