Harvest round-up 2015: Weather stays fair to allow cutting progress

A week of settled weather has allowed many growers in southern areas to wrap up combining and salvage wheat crops, while further north spring barley remains the focus.

After serious delays, harvest is almost complete in the South West, according to Ian Eastwood, marketing manager at West Country Grain.

“What a difference a week makes.

“Most of the crops are now cut, but quality and bushel weights have dropped, with milling wheat deteriorating.”

See also: Wheat and spring barley yields 1t/ha above five-year mean

Oat crops have also suffered from the rain, with crops now slightly stained and discoloured.

“There are still some beans and linseed in the fields, but most farmers are getting there now,” says Mr Eastwood.


The past few weeks have been a real struggle for Tom Coleman at Lower Norton Farm, Winchester, Hampshire, who finished harvest on Sunday (6 September).

“There was 70-80mm of rain over a two-week period, which started just as we began cutting wheat.”

The quality was generally very good for varieties JB Diego, Evolution and Santiago, which yielded 11-13t/ha.

“Overall it has been a difficult harvest, but I am pretty pleased with the crop performance”
Tom Coleman, Lower Norton Farm

“I am delighted as the yields have exceeded expectations, but some did go a bit flat and there have been some sprouted grains,” says Mr Coleman.

Wizard winter beans averaged 4.2t/ha on one farm and 5.2t/ha on another, while some had suffered from drought and went black a month ago.

“Spring barley yielded above expectations, between 7t/ha and 8t/ha.

“Overall it has been a difficult harvest, but I am pretty pleased with the crop performance,” he adds.


Harvest is virtually wrapped up for Ean Branston at Bourton Hill Farm, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, with only 12ha of beans left to cut.

“Yields have been the best we have ever had, but it has been a late and tricky harvest,” he says.

“The wheat has been absolutely incredible, with one bit yielding 15t/ha wet and has averaged 11.5t/ha.

“There was one flat bit, but we got to it all before it sprouted and bushel weights have been in the high 70s.”

Mr Branston says moisture levels were between 14% and 22%, so there was quite a lot to dry.

Wizard beans averaged 5t/ha and Odyssey spring barley has done very well, with low nitrogen and screenings.

Cabernet oilseed rape outdid the hybrid variety, coming in at just over 5t/ha.

“The yield and quality has been there this harvest, but it is nice to get finished,” adds Mr Branston.

Bruce Udale finished combining 10 days ago at Eyton House Farm, Telford, Shropshire, but there is still a lot of wheat left to harvest in the area.

“There is also a fair amount of straw left to be baled and the late harvest has delayed plantings,” he says.

“Wheat has done very well, with a lot of people talking about yields around 12t/ha.

“Grafton did the best for me, with very good bushel weights.

“JB Diego did well and was easy to manage and Leeds produced a beautiful sample, with bushel weights of around 78kg/hl,” adds Mr Udale.


Further north, it has been far from a normal harvest for Glen Sanderson at Eshott South Farm, Felton, Northumberland, despite finishing combining at the normal time.

“Yields have been better than ever in my 40 years of farming, with JB Diego achieving 12.35t/ha and the overall average close to that.”

Mr Sanderson primarily grew Leeds, which took a lot of looking after and some went flat, pulling the yield down slightly.

Moisture content was up to 23%, reaching 15% nearer the end of combining.

“We are delighted with such a bountiful harvest”
Glen Sanderson, Eshott South Farm

“We are used to the catchy weather, so there is nothing to complain about,” he says.

“We are delighted with such a bountiful harvest.”


Spring barley harvest is in full swing in Scotland, but wheat harvest is only just starting according to Scotgrain director Trevor Harriman.

“The potential of malting crops is OK, with low nitrogen and good grain size and screenings, but quite a lot of the barley crop has skinning issues,” he says.

Farmers have finished harvesting spring barley in some coastal regions, with about 60% cut in Angus and 40% further north. The wheat crop is 10-15% done and yields are looking good so far.

“The focus is on the malting barley crop at present, as that is more pressing, but the wheat crops in the field look fine,” adds Mr Harriman.

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