Combines are rolling across parts of the East and South of England, with early indications putting winter barley yields about 10% below last year.
Philip Darke, store manager at Camgrain, said crops were all ripening at once, creating a logistical nightmare for farmers and central store managers.
“We have got wheat planned to come in tomorrow (20 July), and will be maxed-out on all crops within five days. I’ve never known anything like it.”
Winter barley yields were about 10% down on last year, but samples were pleasing, with bold grains and good malting potential, he said.
Two combines and a dry week had enabled Colin Rayner to cut 120ha (300 acres) of winter barley and some rape at his farms in Berkshire, Essex and Surrey.
So far the Sequel winter barley had yielded between 5t/ha and 10t/ha (2-4t/acre).
He expected to be cutting oats by the end of this week, and wheat next week.
In Norfolk, harvest got underway yesterday at Nick Abram’s High House Farm, where yields were so far surprisingly reasonable, given the lack of rain.
“I think our winter barley and oilseed rape will be alright – but spring barley I am more than a little concerned about. The wheat is going off very quickly as well.”
The combine was rolling again today at Brian and Adam Horsfield’s Great Wilbraham Hall Farm, Balsham, Cambridgeshire, despite a false start last week.
Winter barley proved not to be fit on their first attempt at harvest on Monday (12 July), but was now coming off at 11.5% moisture.
“The grain is a little pinched, and the straw is so short we’re cutting at 7km per hour.”
Crops were looking well at Bill Harbour’s Gosmere Farm, Sheldwich, Kent, but oilseed rape was still a week away from ripening.
“Some rape in the area is only just ready for roundup – it’s been hanging on amazingly well.”
In Essex, Guy Smith attempted to start combining oilseed rape at Wigborowick Farm today, but found it was not yet ripe.
“There were too many red seeds in it – I think it might be ready on Wednesday. It looks moderate, but you can’t tell until you get the combine in,” he said.