Harvest round-up: Flat out with fieldwork

Harvest may be drawing to a close, but farmers remain flat out either combining the last of the remaining crops or getting ready for next year.

At Sweethope, Kelso, Stuart Fuller-Shapcott was busy cutting the last 80ha of winter wheat. “Of the varieties that we’ve cut, Viscount has been the favourite,” he said.

While many farmers in the area were drilling oilseed rape, there was also a high level of activity lifting potatoes.

“It’s busy, busy, busy everywhere you look and we certainly won’t be taking any breaks for a while.”

Further south, Richard Wilkinson was also into the last stretch of winter wheat at Corpselanding Holme Farm, Yorkshire.

Kielder first wheat had been exceptional, reaching 12.4t/ha. JB Diego first wheat was also very pleasing, averaging 10.4t/ha, but wasn’t quite as good as a second wheat, at just under 7.4t/ha.

“We’re now busy spreading muck before drilling the Cassia winter barley, which we hope to be in the ground around 22 September,” he said.

“As soon as this is out of the way we’ll be drilling Kielder and Revelation winter wheat with the aim to have everything in the ground by 10 October.”

See also: All the news, videos and harvest resources on our Harvest Highlights page.

In Dorset, Peter Snell was clearing bales at North Farm, Horton and had seen some of the best yields ever this year – particularly with the spring barley.
Propino averaged 9.3t/ha, which was well above the five-year average for the farm. “Prophet peas were also one of the highlights of the year for us at 5.53t/ha,” he said.

Having finished drilling oilseed rape last week, Mr Snell was now busy clearing bales ahead of ploughing and drilling winter wheat. “It’s still all go and no time to rest yet.”

In Oxfordshire, Lionel Wells had experienced a frustrating year at Leadenporch Farm, Banbury, with blackgrass causing real yield damage in wheat and oilseed rape.

Quartz and Cabernet yielded just over 3.7t/ha, with Trinity the most disappointing at below 3.7t/ha.

Scout and Cocoon winter wheat also yielded badly, with Scout averaging 7.4t/ha and Cocoon 6.7t/ha. “We didn’t get the Scout into the ground until December and Cocoon was washed away in a very heavy clay field,” Mr Wells said.

“We patched up what we could with spring wheat to help things along, but the rain early in the year along with blackgrass caused huge problems.”

Blackgrass was also an issue at Fullers Hill Farm, Little Gransden, Cambridgeshire, although John Jefferies was still very pleased with yields. 

“The Cordiale was a second wheat and averaged 10.72t/ha which was very satisfying,” he said. “We’ve had a run of bad luck over the past two years, so it’s been a breath of fresh air.”

Before drilling the winter wheat, Mr Jefferies was busy trying to grow blackgrass. “It’s such a huge problem, we’re sampling various means of controlling it across different parts if the farm,” he said.

“It’s essential that all farmers take the time to really stand back and look at what we’re dealing with.”

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