Harvest round-up: Not over yet

Harvest may be into the final throes, but the damp weather is preventing farmers from putting the combines away just yet.

Although most winter crops are now in the barn, there are still plenty of fields left to cut, and many spring crops are only just ripe.

In Yorkshire, Catherine Thompson still had spring rape to cut at Holme House, Holme on Spalding Moor, and had found the year to be quite a struggle.

“It’s not been great from the start and it’s still a bit of a mess now,” she said. “We need dry weather to finish off the harvest for the year, yet we need the rain for the winter crops that have been drilled,” she said.

“All we’re getting at the moment is a fine drizzle which isn’t helping anything. It’s turning out to be quite a dilemma.”

Across in Shropshire, Alistair Home-Roberts was drilling yesterday (11 September) at Berwick Grove Farm, Shrewsbury, with just spring wheat and beans left to cut.

“We’ve finished drilling oilseed rape and started on the wheat – we’re getting on alright,” he said.

In Wiltshire, Martin Smart had just finished cutting the last of the winter wheat at Ashton Farms, Trowbridge, and was moving into the final 20ha of spring rape.

“We had two combines in 80ha of spring beans yesterday, so there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

Spring beans had done very well, yielding 4.3-5t/ha on good ground, while spring barley had ranged from 6.t/ha on thin soil to 8.6t/ha on better land.

Further north, William Cumber had got 6ha of spring oilseed rape left to cut at Manor Farm, Marcham, Oxfordshire, but was being held up by showers.

“So far, it’s yielded really well – I thought I’d be happy if it did 2t/ha but it’s close to 2.5t/ha,” he said.

Winter oilseed rape never made it through the winter, and Mr Cumber only managed to sow 30ha of the intended 180ha of winter wheat. “Soissons did 6t/ha on lightish land, but it was excellent quality at 14% protein and 380 Hagberg.”

In Northern Ireland, Gerald Erwin had just got spring wheat and spring oats left to cut at Nutts Corner, Crumlin, Co Antrim.

“They are ready to go now, but the weather’s broken,” he said. “At least they’re not coming to any harm.”

Yields had been uninspiring, with Quench, Publican and Westminster spring barley, grown for feed, producing just 3.7-5t/ha, he added.

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