Harvest roundup: Making progress

Drier weather has seen combines emerging from their winter hibernation this week, with some oilseed rape now under way.

In Essex, Guy Smith was starting to combine oilseed rape today (1 August) at Wigborowick Farm, St Osyth, but was a little concerned over its varied maturity.

“The seed looks quite red in the sample; because it’s so late and variable in ripening, it’s difficult to judge,” he said.

“But we’ve had some crush tests done, and we are now confident that it’s within the necessary standards.”

However, further north, harvest was still another 10 days away at Welbourn Farms, Lincoln, where crops were looking surprisingly good.

“We haven’t got any winter barley, so spring barley will be the first thing we cut,” said John Lucas. “We only just sprayed off the rapeseed, so that will be another two weeks.”

Harvest may have started about two weeks later than normal, but by Tuesday farmers had cut about 10% of their winter barley and 5% of their oilseed rape, according to the first HGCA / ADAS harvest report of the year.

“Yields from earliest winter barley crops are close to farm averages, but oilseed rape yields are more variable,” it said.

Winter barley yields so far were averaging about 6.3t/ha, ranging from 5t/ha on light soils to 10t/ha on more water-retentive land. “Early indications are that specific weights are reasonable, with results ranging from 64-70 kg/hl.”

In Somerset, contractors cut winter barley at Beech Tree Farm, Westonzoyland, 10 days ago, but spring barley was about another week away.

“We didn’t have very much winter barley this year, and didn’t grow a six-row variety either,” said Sandra May.

The Florentine yielded just under 7.4t/ha, which was quite reasonable for a two-row. “We took it straight into Cannington Grain and sold it straight away, because there’s going to be quite a lot of spring barley around,” she added.

In Dorset, harvest got under way at JV Farming, Whitcombe, on Friday, but rain had stopped play ever since.

The 8.5ha of Cassia winter barley yielded 7.39t/ha dry over a weighbridge, which was reasonable, considering the growing season, said operations manager Tim Merry.

“It’s better than a kick in the teeth. We can’t complain, as there are plenty of crops looking worse than ours.”

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