Harvest 2017: Combines are busy between the showers

Harvest has got off to a good start on the Black Isle peninsula in northern Scotland, according to Simon Barry, chief executive at Highland Grain, with between 15% and 20% of crops cut and the quality looking good.

“Nobody is complaining about yields and quality is very good, although the weather has been mixed,” he said.

A lot of crops were ripe and ready to go but rain was halting progress. Nitrogen levels in spring barley were good, averaging 1.4-1.5% in Concerto and Laureate.

“It is weighing well with good specific weights. I hope the rest follows this way,” he added.

See also: Video – Seed wheat harvest well under way in Shropshire

Wheat being combined in Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex. © Mark Smith

Wheat being combined in Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex. © Mark Smith

Half-way mark

In Lincolnshire, harvest had just passed the half-way mark, with 47,000t of grain having arrived at Woldgrain Storage, said laboratory and haulage manager, Dan Murphy.

“We are now moving into the bulk of the spring barley and the quality is good – better than we had expected. We have not seen the high nitrogen levels reported in other areas,” he added.

Specific weights were good, with low screening levels and no sign of the skinned grains that were a problem last year. The weather has improved so crops were arriving at the store drier than in previous weeks.

Mr Murphy said there was quite a lot of wheat left to come into store. Early-drilled milling wheat suffered with low Hagberg levels due to the wet weather, with one sample as low as 110, but the later drilled crops were holding up over 200.

Harvest results 2017

  • Winter wheat yields have fallen 1% below the five-year mean in the first four AHDB trials, averaging 10.87t/ha compared with 11.01t/ha.
  • Winter oilseed rape yields largely in line with the four-year average of 5.50t/ha, at 5.51t/ha in 2017 across 13 trial sites.

Nearing completion 

At Dewing Grain in Norfolk, the wheat harvest is nearing completion, with a lot of growers moving into beans, according to the firm’s Ian Webster.

“Wheat yields have been very variable, depending on land type and region, but have probably equalled a good average,” he said.

Hagbergs have held up at over 200-250, while specific weights were reasonably good.

Rain in Wiltshire 

In Wiltshire, combining was at a halt as rain persisted, said Nick Brown, store manager at Wiltshire Grain. The store has received about half its tonnage of wheat and barley but quality was suffering.

“The quality was about gone before harvest started and the weather has not helped since,” he said.

Spring barley crops were pre-germinating, while wheat crops had lost Hagbergs, although protein levels were high.


In south-west England, harvest has not gone too badly, but it has been very stop-start for many growers, according to John Collins at West Country Grain.

“Milling wheats are now pretty washed out and we have not had as much into store as usual, but specific weights are still holding. Farmers are now cutting at about 19% moisture,” he said.

Cannington Grain in Somerset was about two-thirds of the way through its harvest intake, while Kernow Grain in Cornwall was only about half-way through.

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