Harvest round-up: Mixed progress proves frustrating

Harvest is proving a frustrating affair for some farmers, dogged by showers while others have had the combine put away for weeks.

In Dorset, Harriet Besent had long finished harvest at Higher Melcombe Farm, Ansty, Dorchester, and was now flat out calving dairy cows.

“We were very pleased with our wheat and spring barley; the winter barley was not too bad but the oilseed rape was rubbish,” she said.

Although the Quartz only managed 2.5t/ha, it was grown on tricky land, and the best yield Miss Besent had heard for oilseed rape in the area was only 3.5t/ha. “None of it has done well.”

Harvest had also gone well at Henry D’Abo Farming, West Wratting Park Estate, Weston Colville, Cambridge, although farm manager Lee Tubby still had 40ha of wheat left to cut.

“Yields have been exceptional and it’s been relatively easy bar the two weeks of rain in the middle,” he said. “We’ve run out of drying floor space so I’m being patient and waiting for the last few fields to dry before cutting them.”

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

However, further north David Pridgeon still had a lot left to harvest at Willow Farm, Skegness, Lincolnshire, after being plagued by sea mists and rain.

“We seem to have caught every shower going – farmers down the East coast have all been suffering a bit,” he said.

Farmers in the area still had about a quarter of their harvest left to finish, and with the days getting shorter, moisture contents were remaining stubbornly high.

“We are cutting spring wheat at the moment, and when we started combining at midday it was 20% moisture.”

Over in Northern Ireland, Gerald Erwin is combining spring barley today (3 September) at Nutts Corner, Crumlin, Co. Antrim, and still had spring barley, spring oats and spring wheat left to cut.

“Wheat yields have been good at 7.4-10.4t/ha and Gerald winter oats averaged 7.9t/ha,” he said.

Husky spring oats were doing exceptionally well. “At a guess, I’d say they’re yielding 6.8-7.4t/ha.”

Harvest was just over halfway through in the area, with 60ha left to cut on the farm. “If it stays dry we should finish everything but the spring oats next week – they’re not all fit so they will probably go into the following week.”

Back on the mainland, Jeremy Walker had put the combine away for the year at Haddon Farm, Bridgwater, Somerset, and was also up to speed getting next year’s crops in the ground.

“JB Diego was the star performer at over 9.8t/ha which is great for us,” he said. “I think the area as a whole has seen high performing wheat.”

Mr Walker had also been making the most of the new combine for the farm. “We’ve had a new hillside combine which has made this year’s harvest much more pleasurable and with far fewer losses. It’s been nice not to have been hanging off the seat on the steep bits.”

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