Harvest round-up: Still slogging away

Thunderstorms affected many parts of the UK over the bank holiday weekend, although a lucky few still managed to combine wheat and barley crops.

In Lincolnshire, harvest was extremely late around Gainsborough, with only 40% of crops now cut, said Lindsay Wright, store manager at Woldgrain.

“We’ve had rain all weekend, so are just waiting for a dry period to get the combines rolling again,” she said.

“The crops have been coming in quite wet, and quite a lot of the winter barley has failed to make malting due to pre-germination, which is something we haven’t seen much of in recent years.”

Harvest was also about 40% complete in East Anglia, and milling wheat quality had held up better than feed varieties, according to Rob Munro at Fengrain.

“Yields have been disappointing, and there is huge variance in quality, both around the region, on farm, and even within loads,” he said.

“Bushel weights range from 50kg/hl to 72kg/hl, and Hagbergs have slipped, although they are still at usable levels.”

In Scotland, farmers had made a start on combining spring barley in Angus, but 30mm of rain yesterday slowed progress again.

“It’s not been very clever – ground conditions aren’t great in many areas, and no wheat has been cut around here at all,” said Trevor Harriman, general manager at Scotgrain.

Although the Arbroath area had suffered from heavy rain yesterday, the weekend had not been bad, and further north, near Aberdeen, conditions had been drier, he added.

In Wales, harvest was proving a dismal affair, with poor yields, sticky conditions and non-stop rain, said Geoff Thomas from Pantycoch Farm, Letterston, Haverfordwest.

“I’m a bit concerned whether the spring barley will malt – it’s looking a bit weathered. Harvest has just been a drag from beginning to end.”

It was a similar story in Cornwall, where torrential rain yesterday meant Matthew Collins was unlikely to cut anything at Chy-Vellan Farm, Marazion, this week.

“We are getting desperate for dry weather, because the crops are starting to back up,” he said. “There hasn’t been much cut in the area at all.

“We’re nearly into September and normally we’re nearly finishing off at this time of year, but we’ve hardly started.”

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