Harvest roundup: First wheats underway

Farmers are dodging the showers to continue combining winter barley and oilseed rape today (2 August), with some wheat also underway.

In Dorset, Tim Merry had made excellent progress at JV Farming Ltd, Whitcombe, having finished all the oilseed rape and winter barley.

Winter barley yielded a pleasing 8.11t/ha, but oilseed rape was disappointing at between 2.28t and 3.07t/ha, he said.

Nationwide, about 40% of winter barley and almost 20% of oilseed rape had been cut by 31 July, according to the latest report by the HGCA.

“Early indications are that UK winter barley yields are close to average at around 6.3t/ha, with improved yields from normal on light land,” said the report.

“Quality is variable with some low specific weights and high screenings, although nitrogen levels in malting grain are generally within specification.”

Oilseed rape was yielding about average, at around 3.5t/ha.

However, yields were extremely variable, as was harvest progress, with many farmers in Scotland still badly delayed by the wet weather.

In Berwickshire, Colin Mcgregor was ready to begin combining near Coldstream, while south of the border, at West Ancroft, James Douglas had only managed to cut 10ha of Volume winter barley.

“We managed to cut a little bit on Tuesday (31 July) at about 18% but we’ve been rained off ever since,” he said.

In contrast, farmers in Kent had already made a start on winter wheat, with quality looking very variable, said John Smith, director of Weald Granary.

“We’ve had about 400t of wheat into store, and the proteins are all over the place,” he said.

“Hagbergs are good, at 380-390, but bushelweights are low at 66-74kg/hl, and the grain does look small and pinched.”

However, mycotoxin levels were low so far, in contrast to common expectations, he added.

“The highest DON we’ve found is 400 – and the maximum allowed is 1250, so it’s not a concern at this stage.”

With rejections and claims for poor quality wheat likely to be rife this year, farmers should sample all their loads before fulfilling contracts, said Andrew Watts, combinable crops chairman at the NFU.

“Not all homes are making the same deductions – ensure you let your merchant know what you’ve got so they can send it to the most appropriate destination.”

He had cut about half his winter barley and rapeseed at Wallington Farms, Royston, Hertfordshire, and said yields were better than last year.

“The Cassata barley has come in at over 7.5t/ha, which for us is very pleasing.”

Excalibur oilseed rape had out-yielded PR46W21, with an overall average yield of 4-4.5t/ha.

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For all harvest news go to our Harvest Highlights 2012 page.

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