Harvest round-up: Full speed ahead

Combine drivers are continuing to make the most of the weather, with harvest in full swing from Lands End to John O’Groats.

In South West England, harvest was between 70% and 80% complete, with farmers making good progress over the past five days.

“There is an expectation that the weather will break again after the weekend, so everyone is going like the clappers,” said Ian Eastwood, marketing manager at West Country Grain.

“Quality hasn’t improved much – and most farmers have resigned themselves to being 20% down on wheat yield, although I think it’s more like 30%, and some are as much as 50% down.”

Harvest was going slowly at Sheepdrove Farm, Lambourn, Berkshire, but contractor George Brown hoped to pick up the pace this weekend.

“The couch in the corn is just dreadful – it’s been so wet for such a long time that the organic boys are having a dreadful time,” he said.

“But while the crop is as dirty as anything, it’s thrashing beautifully and is producing a lovely bold sample. The Westminster spring barley is probably yielding 3.7-5t/ha, which isn’t bad.”

Further east, spring beans were yielding reasonably well in Kent, but winter beans were disappointing, according to Charles Roberts at GH Grain.

“Farmers are just getting into spring beans and linseed, and the spring beans look as though they’re yielding quite well. Quality is better than last year, too,” he said.

“Most of the cereals are pretty wrapped up now, I think wheat yields are 10-20% down, but some farms are 30% below expectations.”

In Lincolnshire, wheat was finally starting to pour in at Honey Pot Grain Store, Colsterworth, with farmers now making rapid progress.

“So far we’ve only had 2000t of the 16,000t we’re expecting,” said store manager Simon Schaanning.

“A lot is still being combined – it’s taken some time to get down to reasonable moisture levels – tomorrow we should be below 15% for the first time this week.”

But in North Scotland, Alec Webster was only just making a start on spring barley at Lower Reiss Farm, Caithness, with very little having been cut in the area.

“It’s mostly spring crops up here, so there’s really not very much harvest been done yet,” he said.

“Everyone would usually be started by 1 September, so we are behind, but not by a huge amount.”

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