Harvest round-up: Variability continues

Harvest is continuing apace, with wheat yields and quality still looking lower than normal.

Farmers cut about 600,000ha of crops in the week to 21 August, bringing total harvest progress to 40%, according to the latest report from ADAS.

Wheat harvest was about 25% through, with yields ranging from 5t to 10.7t/ha, and likely to average 7.1-7.5t/ha, well below the five-year mean of 7.8t/ha.

“Progress is still well behind average; many crops are still not ripe, and those that have ripe grain are often still green at the base,” said the report.

In the West Country, wheat quality and yields were extremely disappointing, with very little reaching the required specification.

“To say that it’s negative is understating it – the wheat is disappointing at best and almost heartbreaking at worst,” said Ian Eastwood, marketing manager at West Country Grain.

Some crops were yielding below 5t/ha, with bushel weights of 60kg/hl and below, while others were just touching 7.4t/ha, at 68-70kg/hl.

In Staffordshire, John Wilcox was combining wheat today (23 August) at Batch Acre Hall, Stratford, Staffordshire, with very variable results.

“We’re cutting Gallant at 17.5% moisture, and the first field struggled to yield 5.2t/ha,” he said.

“But this field is doing 7.9-8.6t/ha, and we don’t really know why.”

Many farmers were finishing combining winter wheat in the South East, with low bushel weights still posing a tremendous problem.

“It’s a very mixed picture – by and large most of the milling wheat is okay,” said Charles Roberts, grain marketing director at GH Grain.

“It ranges from 65kg/hl to 80kg/hl, but we should be able to do something with a lot of it, as quite a lot is over 72kg/hl.”

In Scotland, wheat and spring barley was still some way off, and Jim Whiteford was hoping to finish combining oilseed rape at Shandwick Mains, Tain, Inverness, before more rain arrived.

“We’ve cut 32ha of the 36ha, and it’s been a tiresome job with the showers,” he said. “It’s spitting with rain again now, but we’re trying to make the most of it.”

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