Harvest round-up: Rain sparks quality concerns

Combines are running again in parts of England, with farmers keen to get crops off even if it means drying them down from higher moisture contents.

In Nottinghamshire, Robert Sutton was managing to cut spring barley at Skegby House, Marnham, today (12 August), despite the recent showers.

“We had 35mm of rain on Sunday, but managed to cut barley at 18.5% moisture yesterday evening, and are on again today,” he said.

“It’s going to be tricky, but I think it’s worth getting on and drying it to minimise any rain damage.”

Further south, Tom Coleman had managed to cut just a few acres of winter wheat today at Lower Norton Farm, Winchester, Hampshire, before being rained off again.

“We have done about 20t in the past hour and have literally just been rained off again,” he said. “However, we weren’t expecting to get anything cut today so at 17% moisture it’s better than nothing.”

In Herefordshire, Jamie Rogers had had a reasonable harvest at White Hall Farm, Hampton Bishop, considering the poor start to the season.

He was now halfway through combining his winter wheat, and so far yields had averaged 8.6-9.4t/ha.

“Considering how wet the winter was, I’ve got to be pretty satisfied,” he said. “We redrilled 20ha of winter wheat, but then the spring wheat couldn’t take the rain in May, so we’ll be lucky to get 2.5t/ha off that.”

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Further north the heavy rain was causing far more disruption, and Ian Elsworth was becoming concerned about the quality of crops yet to harvest at Raskelf Farm, York.

“We’ve had 50mm of rain since Friday night, which isn’t as bad as some, but it’s bad enough,” he said.

“It’s too wet to do any field operations, and we haven’t got two dry days forecast until the weekend.”

And in Morayshire, Iain Green was having a torrid time at Corskie Farm, Garmouth, after the aftermath of Hurricane Bertha brought 104mm of rain in just 14 hours.

“We’re lucky in a way, as the house and fields aren’t under water, but a lot of the spring barley has been flattened; and the crops will be coming to harm if it doesn’t dry up quickly,” he said.

“Everything is ready, and the forecast remains wet this week – it’s just really frustrating.”