Harvest hopes still high in places

Extremely promising, given April’s drought and subsequent deluges, to no more than average. That sums up our eight regional representatives’ views on yield prospects for this season’s combinable crops.

South west

Troy Stuart did not expect to start cutting naturally ripening oilseed rape until after this weekend, but both that and winter wheat appeared promising.

“All our crops were very poor in April. But we’ve had a good ear set in the wheat and I’m surprised at how well it looks. I still think there is a big crop there.”

His only disappointment was a block of 50ha of wheat about 60% lodged where earlier dry weather tempted him to a less than robust growth regulator programme.


Likewise, Andrew Gloag expected a good northern harvest, hoping for a repeat of 1997, when a sodden June was followed by a long dry spell.

“We’ve recorded 11.5in of rainfall over the past four weeks, which means the early harvest we’d anticipated has disappeared. But crops have stood it remarkably well and still look extremely promising.”

First combining, of desiccated winter barley, was due to start aboutnow. The main concern on his heavy land was for autumn cultivations and timely drilling unless the weather turned significantly drier.


John Barrett planned to be cutting desiccated ES Astrid and Castille oilseed rape, all still standing despite the downpours, by now. “That will still be a bit early for us.”

Wheat, having had a late T3 fungicide, was still very green and all upright except after vining peas. “It still has another month to go. It’s OK, but overall it won’t be exciting there are too many blind ear sites, which I think is down to the drought in April.

“The winter beans have been knocked about a bit, but are otherwise fine, and our 70 acres of Tipple spring barley are still standing – unusual around here. I think it may be because we drilled earlier, in February, so perhaps it’s better rooted.”


Nigel Horne reckoned his wheat wastoo thin. “I’ll be happy if it yields near the five-year average.”

Winter barley on his relatively high land would not be ready until about now. His best hopes lay in spring barley and oilseed rape desiccated on 11 July.

“The barley’s very thick, but so far has only really lodged on the headland overlaps.”

Winter beans had flowered well, but pod set was disappointing. “Evenso I’m hopeful of a good result.”


Ben Atkinson’s main reaction to the wet weather had been to desiccate more of his oilseed rape instead of swathing it.

“We normally swath about 60%, but this year we’ve desiccated about 70%. I’m uneasy about putting too much on the floor when the land is so sodden.

“We haven’t had as much rain as some parts, but definitely too much. I’m not expecting a record yield the extreme dry must have robbed potential yield and the extreme wet will have destroyed quality and yield in lodged areas.”

Fortunately, those areas were confined to wheat on headlands. “But there’s a lot leaning and it wouldn’t take much more rain.”


Despite being pleasantly surprised by the estimated 7.4t/ha and quality of last week’s first cut of Carat winter barley, Richard Solari thought April’s drought must have taken its toll on his light land.

“Overall, I expect we shall be slightly below average.”

Looking on the positive side, it had left crops shorter than usual, so none of his crops had lodged.


Having been away on holiday from his farm for two weeks, John Hutcheson was reticent about commenting, except to say that what at one stage seemed set to be an early harvest was back to nearer normal.

Northern Ireland

Near continuous rain had prevented James Wray from applying glyphosate to winter barley to kill annual meadowgrass and ease combining.

Plenty of spring barley in his area had gone down worryingly early. “Thankfully, I only have lodging where the fertiliser overlapped, and the Westminster looks fantastic.”

But it could be late to combine, which might clash with potato lifting, he noted.

Winter wheat, having had its T3 just before the weather broke, “looks great”. And because he had had more time than usual to prepare for harvest, everything was ready for action. “All trailers have had greedy boards added and the tractors are running like a woman’s tongue.”

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