Harvest round-up: Dodging the showers

Heavy rain over the weekend has brought harvest to a halt across much of the country, although combining continues apace for those who’ve escaped the showers.

In Cornwall, John Moss had had an incredible start to harvest at Howton Farm, Saltash, with three contracting combines running non-stop since 14 July.

“It’s been extraordinary – we’ve only been rained off for three days at the end of last week,” he said.

Harvest was about two weeks earlier than normal, but all the crops were ripening at once. “We cut oilseed rape before winter barley, and were into wheat at the end of July, which is almost unheard of.”

Winter barley yields continued to be higher than average, according to new HGCA harvest trials in Perthshire and Essex.

This year’s average yield was now 10.01t/ha, compared to the five-year average of 8.99t/ha, said recommended list manager, Simon Oxley.

“The six-row hybrid feed variety Volume continues to top the yield table with a yield of 106% of the control varieties, and 107% in the five-year average.”

See also: 10 shortcuts that could kill you at harvest time.

Winter barley was likely to be the crop of the year in northern England and Scotland, according to Gary Bright at Grainco.

“Some people have done 10t/ha, with a lot above 7.4t/ha,” he said. “Quality is generally pretty good; although there is the odd sample with low bushel weights, we’ve had others in at 74kg/hl.”

Around three quarters of the winter barley had come off dry, with oilseed rape at 6-7% moisture, said Mr Bright. “That must be a first ever for the North East.”

In Suffolk, Andrew Flatt was more than halfway through harvest at J Flatt & Son’s Hill Farm, Bury St Edmunds, with two combines in full flow at home and on contract farms.

“We’ve cut about 2024ha, so we’re getting on very well,” he said. Today (4 August), he was combining wheat at 16% moisture, and was extremely pleased with yields.

“They’re very high – we’ve had a lot at 10t/ha plus. All varieties are doing fairly well, with most on heavy soil in East Suffolk.”

But across in the West, Philip Gorringe had only just started harvest at Lower Blakemere Farm, Blakemere, Herefordshire, and was extremely frustrated with the showery weather.

“Nothing was fit when the weather was good – we made hay but that was it,” he said. “We’ve just started in winter barley and grass seed, and now we’re getting lots of showers – it’s so frustrating.”

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