Harvest roundup: Rain raises quality concerns

Rain continues to frustrate efforts to combine around the country, and wheat quality is starting to suffer in places.

In Cambridgeshire, harvest was in full swing, despite the showers, according to Philip Darke, store manager at Camgrain.

“People were cutting at 20% moisture on Sunday and are on at 18% today (9 August).”

Wheat yields were varying from 5.5t to 10t/ha (2.2-4t/acre), with heavy bushelweights but variable protein contents.

“Hagbergs are surprisingly low on Group Four varieties, down to 100, so that’s something to watch.”

In East Anglia bushweights were already starting to suffer after the rain, said Andrew Dewing at Dewing Grain.

“I spoke to a grower this morning, who has gone back into wheat he started cutting before the rain, and the bushelweight has fallen from 80kg/hl to about 77kg/hl.

“That is not good news – it is really going to start bringing yields down quickly.”

Wet weather had prevented many farmers from combining since last Thursday in Kent, where harvest was about 30-40% complete, said Tim Porter, grain trader at GH Grain.

“People might get going again this afternoon if the rain holds off.” Wheat yields ranged from 6t/ha to over 11t/ha (2.4-4.5t/acre), he said.

But in Dorset, wheat yields were extremely good, although milling proteins were on the low side, said Nick Matthews, trading director at Wessex Grain.

“Most of the group one varieties are cut now, and we’ve had very good yields. It’s a phenomenal crop.

“When we really get into the (feed) wheat we’re going to see some huge yields down here, as long as the weather holds.”

The weather was being anything but kind in Scotland, where farmers might get an afternoon combining today before further showers arrive.

Very little rapeseed or winter barley had been cut yet, with spring barley and wheat a long way off, said Trevor Harriman, general manager at Scotgrain.

Spring barley quality was likely to be holding up well. “It has been quite cool so it isn’t taking too much harm. But it really doesn’t need any more rain.”

Harvest also remained on hold in France, and wet weather was starting to cause quality problems in milling wheat, said analyst Agritel.

“Despite good testweight recorded before rains, millers reported quality problems for many varieties, generating an increasing buying interest for premium wheat.”

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