Harvest round-up: Frustrated by the rain

Persistent rain showers continue to prove frustrating for farmers, but yields – when the combines have been able to run – remain good.

Winter wheat yields were 1.93t/ha above the five-year average, according to HGCA Recommended List trials.

So far, the overall average yield was 11.9t/ha, ranging from 10.82t/ha on shallow soil in Lincolnshire to 13.39t on deep clay soil in Suffolk.

Feed varieties were top of the list, with Leeds currently yielding 106% of the control varieties.

The main challenge for many farmers this year had been controlling grass weeds and diseases, said Agrii’s David Neale.

“As well as serious yield reductions, where blackgrass has been problematic we’re seeing worrying levels of ergot in some cases, transferring from early infections in this alternative host,” he said.

“In a season in which crop marketability will be so important, growers must be alert to this threat.”

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

Simply getting the crop off the field would be a good start in Northern Ireland, where Richard Kane was despairing of the wet weather at Broglasgow House, Myroe, Londonderry.

“It’s really bad here – it makes me wonder why we bother,” he said. “It’s just the usual struggle.

“There’s definitely a bit of sprouting starting in the wheat and about 70% of the spring barley went flat in the storms 10 days ago – I don’t even want to look at it.”

Duncan Whiteman was also frustrated by the showers at Arlescott Farm, Telford, Shropshire, having just started combining winter wheat.

“We’ve cut some Santiago, which was extremely good, yielding over 9.9t/ha as a first wheat after oilseed rape,” he said.

“It was 16% moisture today (19 August) and we were just driving down the road to make a start when there was another storm. It’s been so bad I’ve even had time to do my VAT return.”

In Tyne & Wear, Geoff Alderslade had just 12ha of winter wheat left to cut at West Fellgate Farm, Wardley, but harvest was rained off again last night.

“It’s just stop-start,” he said. “We would have finished yesterday if it hadn’t have rained.”

However, he had had a good weekend, having started combining wheat on Friday and continuing right through, while showers stopped combines all around him.

“It all goes straight into Tynegrain, and we haven’t had the weighbridge tickets back yet, but I think the first field, which lay very wet, did 7.4t/ha, while the rest should have done about 9.9t/ha.”


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