Harvest round-up: Feeling autumnal

Sunnier days should mean farmers make rapid progress through the remaining crops, but with autumn now here, combining days are considerably shorter.

Heavy dews and green straw had slowed the pace of harvest over the past week, with 63% of the area cut by Tuesday, said the latest report from ADAS.

Wheat harvest was about 55% complete, with yields 5-10% below average at 7.1-7.4t/ha.

“There is still significant area still to be harvested in the Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber and Scotland,” it added.

In Humberside, harvest had been a dismal affair for Peter Caley and his father at Smithy Briggs Farm, Burton Constable, Hull, but they were catching up now.

“I’m pleased to be under pressure after the past few weeks – it’s been really quite difficult with all the rain we’ve had,” said Peter.

“Since June my father has been saying that the wheat wasn’t going to do well. We cut it yesterday and he was right. It hardly made 5t/ha, and we haven’t even honoured our contracts.”

Harvest started out really well at Stracathro and Careston Estates, Laurencekirk, Angus, but yields had gone down ever since.

“The oilseed rape was really good, but spring barley was only average and the wheat is pretty bad,” said manager Gordon Cairns.

“I’m glad we’ve got a four-wheel drive combine – at one point we could have entered the bog snorkelling combine championships, it was so wet.”

Shorter days were taking their toll at Boddington Estates, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, where Joe Edwards didn’t get combining until 1pm today (6 September).

“It was foggy this morning, and then it gets cold and damp in the evening so we have to stop by 8pm. The wheat’s all dusty and doesn’t want to thrash – it’s horrible.”

With 80ha of wheat left, Mr Edwards expected to move into the final 35ha of winter beans next week.

“I sprayed them off 10 days ago. They looked rubbish, but now the foliage has died back they might surprise us and do 3t/ha.”

Nearby, Chris Padfield finished combining wheat today at The Hawthorns, Staunton, Gloucestershire, and was moving into winter linseed.

“We’ve gone three times up the headland, so it’s too early to tell what it’s going to yield, but I’d guess we’ll be lucky to do 2t/ha.”

Wheat had been mixed, he said. “Gallant yielded 7.9t/ha over a weighbridge, with a bushel weight of 70-73kg/hl.

“We thought that was rubbish until we cut the Diego, which came off at 63-64kg/hl and will struggle to do 7.4t/ha. It probably won’t even do that.”

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