Harvest round-up: Waiting for rain

Farmers who have finished harvest are looking forward to a drop of rain, but those who still have crops to cut will not find it so welcome.

In the week to Tuesday (3 September), perfect weather and peak crop maturity meant farmers combined more than in any single week of harvest for the past five years.

According to the latest HGCA / ADAS report, combines cut 1.3m ha of crops over the week, including 45% of the UK’s wheat area and almost 40% of the spring barley area.

“Almost 80% of all combinable crops have now been harvested, which is in line with the five-year average at this stage,” said the report.

Richard Speakman had finished harvest at Sandon Lodge Farm, Chelmsford, Essex, and was well under way with drilling next year’s oilseed rape.

“We finished on 31 August, which was later than usual for us,” he said. Cassia winter barley yielded 8.2t/ha, coming off at 16% moisture with a 74kg/hl bushel weight. “It was an exceptional crop and a huge improvement on last year.”

In Slough, Stephen Whitby had also finished harvest, following an early start at Rowley Farm, Wexham, and was looking forward to the rainy weather expected over the next few days.
“It’s been a good to average year for us,” he said. “Where the soils are lighter the crops have struggled, but in the heavier places everything has done very well.”

But it was a different story in Northumberland, where Rod Smith had had a difficult year from start to finish at Beal Farm, Berwick upon Tweed.

“With a wet and cold start for all of the crops, I think we can say it’s been the worst year we’ve ever had,” he said.

Further north, the dry weather meant farmers in Scotland were delighted to have been combining cereals at the lowest moisture contents in years, and harvest was progressing well.

In Laurencekirk, Angus, Andrew Moir had finished combining about 10 days earlier than normal. “The peculiarity was, and this is a first in my farming career, we finished wheat and oilseed rape on the same day,” he said.

“Yields have not been astounding, but specific weights have been generally quite good. We’re just glad to get it all swept up and prepare for the next one.”

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