Harvest round-up: Records of every type

Harvest records continue to tumble, for both the right – and the wrong – reasons.

Staffordshire farmer John Wilcox is a perfect example of how extreme the 2013 harvest has been, with both record low wheat yields and record high oilseed rape yields at Batch Acre Hall, Stratford.

“It’s probably the worst wheat I’ve ever grown in my life, having been mauled into wet ground after potatoes,” he said.

In sharp contrast, oilseed rape produced a record 5t/ha. “We’ve only grown rape for four years, and it was just amazing.”

In Lincolnshire, Tim Lamyman had just claimed the UK wheat yield record by 0.01t/ha, achieving a massive 14.31t/ha off 8.95ha of KWS Kielder at Lamyman Worlaby Farms, Louth.

He had hoped to challenge the world record of 15.63t/ha, set by New Zealand farmer Mike Solari in 2010.

“But we had a blockage in the drill and a couple of patches of blackgrass, so were never going to achieve that,” he said.

Across the water in County Armagh, harvest was progressing well and John Best was hoping to finish cutting winter wheat today (6 September).

“We’ve had a record number of consecutive dry days’ combining – we’ve been cutting solidly for 13 days,” he said.

However, spring oat straw remained very green, and farmers still had about half their spring barley left to cut in the area.

Harvest was drawing a close across Europe, with French soft wheat production rising by 1.1m tonnes compared to last year, to 36.7m tonnes.

According to the latest HGCA report, French maize production was expected to increase by 0.3m tonnes, to 15.6m tonnes.

And in Germany, grain and rapeseed harvest was almost complete, with generally good quality but low wheat protein contents.

Back in the UK, winter bean samples appeared to be of good quality, with some regional insect damage, said the latest report by BEPA and PGRO.

“Initial harvest indications are that bean seed size is likely to be small, but yields are potentially very good,” it said.

Although values had fallen from their peak, prices remained high, with encouraging interest from the feed sector at home and abroad. “Premiums available of up to £60/t over feed wheat continue to be mentioned.”

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