Harvest round-up: Finally finishing?

For many farmers, harvest 2012 will be one to forget, with just the last few fields left to cut in northern Scotland before it can be officially drawn to a close.

Having started two weeks later than normal, it would go on record as one of the latest harvests in recent years, with Scottish farmers still needing to cut 12,000ha of wheat as of the middle of last week, said the final HGCA / ADAS report of the year.

Winter wheat yields were expected to average 6.8t/ha – 1t/ha below the five-year average.

Later cut wheat in the East Midlands had dropped even further in terms of quality, said Rob Munro, marketing director at Fengrain.

“It’s becoming evident that there’s another lurch down in quality – it’s going to be a harvest that we’ll remember for all the wrong reasons this year.”

About 40% of milling wheat varieties were just about reaching the required specification, he said.

Millers were therefore increasingly looking to imported wheat to make up for this year’s poor specific weights, added David Sheppard at Gleadell Agriculture.

“Wheat quality ranges from fair to moderate to appalling – we are seeing bushel weights down into the mid-50s in some samples,” he said. 

“It’s a massive sorting job for the whole industry: working out what you have got and allocating the correct quality to the end user is key.”

In Scotland, Eric Haggart had finished harvest at Bailielands Farm, Auchterarder, Perthshire, but his neighbour was still busy combining wheat.

“He’s got quite a large acreage, and was cutting yesterday and today (8 October),” said Mr Haggart. “The beans are still a while away, too.”

Yields had been very disappointing, with spring barley some 30% down on average.

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