Harvest round-up: Rain brings mixed fortunes

Heavy rain brought harvest to a standstill over the weekend, but while some farmers suffered devastating crop losses, others were feeling lucky.

In Hertfordshire, Andrew Watts was about a fifth of the way through harvest at Wallington Farms, Royston, with winter barley and oilseed rape in the barn.

“Yesterday (20 July) was a bit of a washout, but we’ve been very fortunate in avoiding too many thunderstorms,” he said.

“We’re just getting ready to go again now – while other people had 12-15mm of rain last night we escaped with just 2mm.”

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

Hampshire also escaped the worst of the weather, and winter barley harvest was now about 50% complete, with oilseed rape around a quarter of the way through, said Mike Clay, manager of Hampshire Grain.

“Harvest is earlier than normal around here – we wouldn’t normally have taken that much in,” he said.

“Unfortunately most of our members are speaking of disappointing rape yields, at 3t/ha – but oil contents and admixture levels are fine.”

Winter barley yields were proving very variable, but were probably averaging between 6.2t and 7.4t/ha, added Mr Clay. “That’s slightly below where people would like to be.”

In Worcestershire, Andrew Symonds finished combining winter barley at Lincoms Farm, Hartlebury, on 12 July, after the earliest start to harvest ever.

See also: Storm wreaks havoc on crops.

“We were one of the first to start combining in the area,” he said. “We started combining on 9 July and just carried straight through to finish on 12 July.”

The Venture winter barley yielded extremely well, averaging 9t/ha on half of the 32ha, and 7.5t/ha on the other half. “It’s the best winter barley we’ve ever grown.”

Across in the East, Richard Beachell hoped to start harvesting oilseed rape at Field House Farm, Bainton, Humberside, on Wednesday (23 July), and was reasonably optimistic about yields.

“There’s quite a lot of insect damage in the oilseed rape, but they are good bulky crops,” he said.

“We had 22mm of rain over the weekend – but no hail, so it hasn’t done any damage. We’re just waiting for some nice fine weather so we can get started.”

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Harvest was also yet to get underway at Stracathro and Careston Estates, Laurencekirk, Angus, but farm manager Gordon Cairns hoped to start combining winter barley this week.

“We had quite a considerable storm with a lot of rain on Saturday, and yesterday it didn’t really dry out,” he said.

However, the crops looked really promising. “I’m quite confident about them, although we’ll have to wait and see.”

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