Harvest round-up: Keeping busy between the showers

Farmers are combining between the showers where they can, and getting ahead with fieldwork elsewhere.

In Lincolnshire, David Hoyles had been combining mustard seed at Monmouth Farm, Spalding, while waiting for standing winter wheat to dry out.

“Our family has been growing mustard for Colman’s of Norwich for over 100 years – it is the main ingredient in the hot yellow Colman’s English Mustard,” he said.

The first field of Gedney white mustard had yielded a rather disappointing 1.6t/ha at 10% moisture, but Mr Hoyles hoped the rest would be closer to the five-year average of 2t/ha.

Further south, Paul Garfoot was having a frustrating time at Chalke Valley Farming Partnership, Salisbury, Wiltshire, with frequent showers hampering harvest.

“We just got going again today (14 August) and then we were caught by another shower,” he said.

However, harvest was now about 70% complete, with spring barley proving the highlight of the year so far.

“We’ve had some fair tonnages; we’d estimate that Cheerio null-lox barley did 8.5t/ha. And Tipple has done even better, at 9t/ha.”

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

Harvest progress in the week to 12 August slowed to half the rate of the previous week, with heavy showers meaning farmers only managed to combine 320,000ha.

However, that still put the national harvest progress at 45% complete, with 30% of winter wheat crops now in the barn, said the latest HGCA / ADAS harvest report.

“Any crops harvested after the rain have been harvested at moisture contents over 14%, and as a result, most samples harvested towards the end of the period have required drying.

“Wheat yields to date are good (averaging 8-8.2t/ha), with most crops yielding above the farm average.”

Oilseed rape yields were above average, with the best crops in the North and poorer crops further south, according to Owen Cligg, trading manager at United Oilseeds.

“In the South, there are a lot of crops yielding 3t/ha, while in Scotland there are many at 4t/ha,” he said. “It’s a bit of a role reversal from last year.”

Overall, Mr Cligg expected national yields to average 3.5t/ha, compared to the five year average of about 3.3t/ha. “Oil contents and quality are generally good, averaging about 45% oil and without the admixture problems we had last year.”

In Scotland, Scott Campbell had finished combining oilseed rape and winter barley, and had now ploughed 90% of his oilseed rape ground at Kirkton Farm, Kinellar, Aberdeen.

But it was still too wet to combine remaining crops. “The ground is very wet,” he said. “We’ve been on ploughing but it’s too wet to drill anything. I just wish the rain would stop.”

However, Mr Campbell had made a good start to harvest, having begun combining on 23 July. “That’s the earliest I can ever remember starting,” he said. “Winter barley moisture contents were as low as 12% and only went up to 15.5%, which is unheard of up here.”


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