Harvest round-up: A brighter outlook?

More settled weather should mean combines return to the field in force this weekend, but some crops will take a bit of drying out in the North and West.

In Wales, Colin Philliphs was eager to get combining again at Dairy Farm, Penhros, Monmouth, but wet weather continued to get in the way.

“It’s been a stop go affair so far. We’re two thirds of the way through but yield wise, it’s the worst harvest I remember,” he said.

Harvest was also looking gloomy for Robert Bower at Manor Farm, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, with 52ha of spring barley suffering in the wet weather.

“It’s been ready to cut for at least a week now and today (31 August) has been the first nice day.”

However, some farmers had been luckier, with many in the South and East finishing up their harvest.

Gerald Godfrey had had an easy run at Great Common Farm, Beccles, Suffolk, with all his wheat, rapeseed and barley now in the shed.

He was now heading off to combine for a neighbour. “We haven’t had any complaints this year really. The weather settled down towards the end so moistures weren’t a problem. In fact moisture contents were down to 12.5% one day.”

Further north, large quantities of straw were pleasing Chris Sheldon of WH Jaques and Sons in Skegness, Lincolnshire, despite poor grain quality.

“As we have a lot of livestock on the farm, we buy in straw from neighbours, but I think we may have spoken for a little too much now as straw yields have been really pleasing on our own land,” he said.

However, grain yields were not as good. “We’re doing about 7t/ha on wheat and, because we’ve been pretty unlucky with frequent showers, we’ve only cut 6ha so far,” he said.

Harvest was also at a halt for David Watson, farm manager at Newcastle University’s Cockle Park Farm, Morpeth, Northumberland, following more wet weather.

“We’re ready to cut wheat now but this constant wet and then dry is no good for anything,” he said. “I’m nervous of the wheat sprouting in the ear.”

He was also concerned about the looming drilling campaign. “We’ve not got a single seed of oilseed rape in the ground yet. Field conditions are probably more worrying than combining is.”

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