Harvest round-up: Storms damage some crops

The tail end of Hurricane Bertha brought heavy rain and strong winds to much of the UK over the weekend, bringing harvest to a standstill for many farmers.

In Scotland, the storms had damaged a number of crops, said Doug Fowlie, who had finished combining winter barley and oilseed rape at Millhill Farm, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, and was now waiting for spring barley to ripen.

“We had an inch of rain last night (10 August) and it’s very windy and miserable today,” he said. “Some of the winter oats have gone flat, and a little bit of spring barley, but it’s not too bad yet.”

At the other end of the country, torrential rain also hit last night, meaning Daniel Harding, partner at Alvis contracting, would not be combining today near Redhill, Bristol.

“We’ve missed a good chunk of the storms, but it doesn’t look like we’ll get much cut before the weekend,” he said.

However, given some dry weather, he only had about a week’s combining left to do.

Across in Kent, the rain had meant Kim Acres was enjoying a well-earned break from harvest at Gosmere Farm, Sheldwich.

“We were loading a grain lorry and had to stop, it was just torrential,” he said. “It will be an early night tonight for once.”

However, the farm had escaped quite lightly, with rain passing it on both sides on Thursday and Friday last week. “Everyone else had to stop but we could just keep combining,” said Mr Acres.

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

In Essex, harvest had been rained off for several days at Pattocks Farm, Colchester, but Roger Barron was delighted with yields from the second wheats this year.

“A lot of people seem to have had good results this year with second wheats, so I don’t think we’re alone,” he said.

“We’ve had 30-40mm of rain over the past few days and have got a lot of borage lying on the ground in the swath – it is fairly resilient so hopefully it won’t come to any harm.”

In the latest trial results for the HGCA Recommended List, spring barley yields had come in slightly below the five-year average yield, at 6.89t/ha.

The provisional brewing varieties, KWS Irina and Sanette yielded 109% and 108% of the control varieties, respectively.

For varieties with full approval for brewing, Odyssey averaged 107% of the control, with Propino at 101%.

Meanwhile, the NFU had launched its annual harvest survey for 2014, and was urging members to fill in their crop area and yields on the confidential website or by post.

Respondents to this year’s survey would be entered into a competition to win a GrainSafe Smartprobe temperature monitor for stored grain.


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