Harvest 2018: Spring malting barley harvest kicks off in Norfolk with yields down

The earliest spring malting barley harvest in living memory started in Norfolk this week, with yields down but not as bad a first feared after a wet spring and a scorching summer.

The first harvested crops in this traditional light land malting barley area showed very good quality with low nitrogen content, bold grain and low screenings.

See also: More on this year’s harvest

Farm manager Andrew Murdo has combined the malting variety Concerto at a yield of 4.5-5.0t/ha, whereas he would normally look for 5.5-6.5t/ha on his abrasive  sandy loam soils.

“It is very dry and yields are not good, but it could have been a lot worse and we have been pleasantly surprised,” he told Farmers Weekly.

The grain nitrogen level was 1.48%, well below the maximum of 1.6% the maltster need to supply the Scottish whisky distillers, and the crop was cut at a  moisture of 12.04% showing a good specific weight of 66.9kg/hl.

“It has been a challenging season with our last rain on 3 June, and I have never seen it so dry in my 20 years at the farm,” he added.

He started cutting his 190ha of Concerto on Wednesday (25 July) and hopes to be finished today (Friday 27 July) on the 2,200ha Wroxham Home Farms on the edge of the Norfolk Broads, some six miles north-east of Norwich.

Further northwest, Tony Bambridge  has just cut 16ha of the spring malting variety Diablo with yields down on what he would normally expect.

“Yield was about 5.5t/ha, which is 2t/ha light of what we would have expected,” he said.

Mr Bambridge grows 120ha of the spring malting varieties Diablo and Concerto on the 1,200ha of sandy loam soils he farms as B&C Farming Ltd at Wood Farm, Marsham, eight miles north of Norwich.