Harvest 2018: Cereal yields show better-than-expected trend

In Northumberland and the Scottish Borders, the winter wheat harvest is about 15% complete, with a few combines clearing up the last of the winter barley, said Gary Bright, managing director at Grainco.

About 60% of the oilseed rape and winter oats are also in the barn, making it the earliest and driest harvest in more than 20 years, he added.

“Quality has been very good so far across the board, and yields have been far from doom and gloom,” said Mr Bright.

See also: The 5 top-yielding winter oilseed rape varieties

The most disappointing is oilseed rape, with many reported yields of about 2.5t/ha. However, others  achieved up to 4.7t/ha, making for a very mixed picture. About 80% of all deliveries have come in naturally dry.

In Scotland, growers will be moving into winter wheat at the end of this week, with spring crops soon after that.

“If it stays dry, harvest could be over in 10 days, but it’s not in the barn yet,” he added.


Further south, the wheat harvest is nearly finished, with variable yields and quality, according to Jonathan Lane, trading manager at grain trader Gleadell.

“Wheat proteins are OK, while the hagbergs and specific weights are good,” he said, adding that yields are 10-15% below average.

“The harvest is considerably earlier this year – it will be all be finished in August,” he added.

The oilseed rape harvest is about 80% complete nationally, with variable yields as crops have suffered from the weather and so didn’t realise their potential, added Mr Lane.

Wheat harvest

East Anglia

Combines will soon be wrapping up the earliest harvest in East Anglia seen for a while, said Philip Darke, operations director at grain co-operative Camgrain.

“Yields are 10-12% down – it seems they get better further north,” he added.

Spring barley quality was good, but there are concerns about the later-drilled crops.

“The nitrogen range is encouraging – better than people expected. However, the quality is likely to go down as harvest continues,” he said.

Wheat quality is variable, with slightly lower specific weights than last year.

“The biggest variation is the wheat protein – probably due to the last top-dressing not being taken up by the crop,” he said.

Spring barley harvest

South England

Further south, harvest is nearing a close at Penn Croft Farms, Farnham, Surrey, with Giles Porter combining Planet spring barley this week.

“We just have 40ha of spring barley, some spring wheat and linseed to do,” he said. So far, the barley is yielding 5.5-6t/ha, with specific weights looking reasonable.

Wheat yields are also below average – by between 1t and 2t/ha, depending on soil type. Skyfall yielded just below 9.5t/ha, with Crusoe, Evolution and Basset averaging 7-8.5t/ha.

“Quality has been good, although specific weights are a bit low on the thinner ground,” said Mr Porter.

Oilseed rape yields ranged from 2.5 to 3.7t/ha, with Tundra winter beans at 3.5t/ha.

“Peas were a massive disappointment at 2.6t/ha, while specific weights on the spring oats were pretty low. Considering the year, it’s not too bad,” he said.

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