Harvest roundup: Rain stops play

Heavy showers have brought combines to a standstill across much of the country – although further north harvest is still some way off.

In Suffolk, hailstorms had damaged oilseed rape crops, although Martin Pratt was up to date with combining at Tye Farm, Nedging Tye, with 60ha of rape and 20ha of winter barley already cleared.

“When it’s 30°C things change so quickly – last week was a really good week.”

Oilseed rape was yielding reasonably well at Andrew Baker’s Foxes Farm, Creeting St Mary, Suffolk, but a lot was still not ready to combine.

“We’ve cut all the rapeseed that was fit – the rest won’t be ready until at least Friday (3 August),” he said.

Alienor, grown for seed, had averaged about 3.8t/ha, with Cabernet yielding slightly better as a commercial crop.

Further south, Andrew Cragg was hoping to start combining Gallant winter wheat today (30 July) at Brooker Farm, Romney Marsh, Kent, but rain had stopped play.

“We had three combines lined up ready to go, and then it rained, which is rather frustrating,” he said.

So far he had cut 12ha of Camelot oilseed rape, which had yielded 4.49t/ha at 8.5% moisture.

In Somerset, harvest started 12 days late at Beech Tree Farm, Westonzoyland, but Patrick and Sandra May had now finished winter barley and started on wheat.

The Siberia six-row barley, cut at 18.8% moisture, yielded a disappointing 5t/ha, 2.5t/ha lower than last year, with a bushelweight of just 59.7kg/hl.

“The Gallant winter wheat is nothing to shout about – the bushelweight is pretty low,” said Mrs May. “The rest of it won’t be ready for another seven to 10 days.”

However, it was a different story across much of Northern Ireland, Northern England and Scotland, where continued showers had kept combines under wraps over the past week.

“We haven’t had the settled dry spell that everyone’s had further south,” said Stuart Fuller-Shapcott, who farms at Sweethope, Kelso, in the Scottish Borders.

“I haven’t even made my first cut silage yet, because we haven’t had two dry days together.

“I’m actually thinking of buying a four-wheel drive combine, because it is so wet underfoot. The tramlines are alright, but I’m very nervous of travelling anywhere else.”

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

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