Harvest roundup: Quality holding up well

Rain has stopped play again across much of the UK today (23 August), but quality is still holding up well.

In Scotland, harvest was now a week behind normal, said Trevor Harriman, general manager at Scotgrain.

“Although we had an early start to harvest, it’s been delayed so much that we’re now a week behind, and are similar to last year’s progress.”

Harvest had been badly delayed at Spott Estate, Dunbar, East Lothian, where manager James Drury was still combining winter barley.

“It’s been a horrendous couple of weeks – we’ve had over six inches of rain in the past seven to 10 days.”

He hoped to finish the Cassata tonight, and was pleased with yields of 8.2t/ha (3.3t/acre) over a weighbrige. “It’s a bit late, but it’s still holding its malting quality.”

In contrast, harvest in East Anglia was almost finished, with farmers dodging the showers to get in the last of the wheat, spring barley and beans.

“Most people have just got a few days’ combining left – quite a lot finished a week ago, and the big players are into beans now,” said Philip Darke, managing director at Camgrain.

Spring barley yields were 50% down on average, he said. “If farmers were budgeting for 7.4t/ha (3t/acre) they’ve got 3.7t/ha (1.5t/acre).”

In Suffolk, Stuart Baker was breaking two records this harvest – potentially the highest yielding commercial oilseed rape crop of the season, and the worst wheat ever.

The Astrid oilseed rape at Ivy House Farm, Laxfield, averaged 6.33t/ha (2.56t/acre) across a 13ha (32 acre) field, with all fields topping 5t/ha (2t/acre).

But the remaining wheat looked awful. “It won’t break any yield records, except for being the lowest yielding wheat crop we’ve ever had,” he said.

In the South, rain had brought combines to a halt again today, but wheat and spring barley quality was holding up well.

Nick Matthews, trading director at Wessex Grain, reckoned farmers in central Southern England still had about 40% of wheat to cut, and around 10% of spring barley.

“A lot of it was only just fit before the rain, so quality hasn’t been affected. It doesn’t want a lot more on it, but Hagergs are still robust.”

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