Harvest roundup: Surprising yields in the East

The weather continues to dictate harvest progress, with some surprisingly good yields in drier parts of the country.

In Essex, Guy Smith had had to pull the combine out of mud four times so far at Wigborowick Farm, St Osyth, but was very pleased with above average wheat yields.

“We started the Cordiale last Monday (30 July) because we had an equal daily quantity contract for 1-3 August, and I would have got a default of £210/t,” he said.

“The first field was early drilled and yielded almost double what it did last year, and overall it was 10% above our average. Last year’s drought hurt us a lot more than this year’s rain.”

Further south, Martin Boulden was about to make a start in winter wheat at Court Lodge, Aldington, Kent, having finished the winter barley and oilseed rape.

“We’ve been very lucky with the weather down here – we did 263ha of oilseed rape in six and a half days, and 45ha of winter barley in a day and a half.”

The Dimension, Compass, Alienor and PR46W21 rape averaged about 3.7t/ha, with the W21 topping the yield table.

Saffron winter barley yielded better than last year at 8.2t/ha, and had already been moved with no quality problems, he said.

However, in Somerset, harvest was yet to get underway at Alvis Bros’ farm near Redhills, with only crimped wheat cut so far.

“We cut 8ha of crimped wheat yesterday (6 August) in three fields – and we had to leave 4ha in every field as it was too wet,” said partner Daniel Harding. “There’s water just standing on the ground.”

In Scotland, Sandy Norrie had cut a little winter barley at AJ Duncan Farms’ Muirden Farm, Turriff, Aberdeenshire, and was swathing oilseed rape today.

“We’ve been quite lucky with the weather in our little corner, compared to the rest of the country,” he said.

“We cut 14ha of Volume winter barley on Friday, but the rest won’t be ready until later this week.”

In sharp contrast to the UK’s wet summer, Eastern Europe was suffering from a prolonged drought, meaning grain yields would be massively down this year.

Harvest was almost 80% complete in southern Russia, and yields were 25-30% below last year, according to analyst Offre & Demande Agricole UK.

“The situation is very similar in Ukraine where conditions have been terrible throughout the growing season, and expectations are that production will be 40-50% lower than last year,” said market analyst Leo von Kameke. “Kazakhstan has been similarly affected.”

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