Harvest roundup: A case of pot luck

Harvest progress continues to be a case of pot luck, with some farmers getting settled dry weather, and others unable to combine in over a week of showers.

In the first two weeks of August, East Scotland received 160% of its normal rainfall for the whole month, with Herefordshire getting just 20%, said a Met Office spokesman.

Stephen Sant was one of the lucky ones, having five dry days in a row at Model Farm, Hanchurch, Staffordshire.

“We normally get quite a lot of rain here, so the wheat had a robust fungicide programme, and it’s a nice bright colour,” he said.

Today, (24 August) he was combining Viscount first wheat for a neighbour, which was yielding 10t/ha (4t/acre).

Conversely, in Wiltshire, Edward Parsons hadn’t combined anything for 11 days near Redlynch, Salisbury.

“We’ve finished all of our own wheat at Templemans Farm, but are still waiting to cut wheat on contract,” he said.

“They want it at 16% but we keep getting massive storms, so it hasn’t dried out. It hasn’t been overly fit, so isn’t coming to any harm yet.”

In Northern Ireland, John Best was combining oats at Acton House Farm, Poyntzpass, Co. Armagh, yesterday, and was pleased with yields so far.

“The weather has been mixed, but we’ve had a few good days,” he said. “We’ve been cutting Mascani winter oats at 7.6-7.9t/ha (3.1-3.2t/acre) on good ground.

“I’ve just got into the Balado, and I don’t think they’ll do so well.”

Ian Elsworth was two-thirds of the way through harvest at Raskelf Farm, York, and was enjoying above average yields on all crops.

“We’re combining today, and I’d really like to push on and get everything in the shed, but we’ve got rain forecast tonight,” he said.

“In May, we were worried that yields were going to be down, but it’s actually the opposite; we’re over our five-year average.”

In France, harvest was now complete, with wheat yields 8% down on last year, according to analyst ODA.

It estimated average yields to be 6.66t/ha (2.7t/acre), putting total production at 33.6m tonnes.

Barley yields were down by 11%, with oilseed rape up by 3%.

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