Harvest 2019: Barley harvest kicks off in Cornwall with drought-hit yields

Winter barley harvest is now under way in Cornwall, with early yields lower than normal after this traditionally wet corner of south-west of England suffered from a very dry spring.

Jeremy Oatey, managing director of Agricola Growers and Farmers Weekly arable Farmer Focus writer, says his farm has cut 20ha of the winter feed variety Tower and is moving into malting variety Maris Otter this afternoon.

The Tower crop was yielding 6.18t/ha at 13% moisture and giving a grain sample that looked a “bit thin”, as rain in June came too late to have any significant effect on yields. Winter barley feed varieties usually yield about 7.0-7.5t/ha on the farm.

“At the end of May, the crop looked a bit glum, and although we had good rain in June, it probably came too late to have any significant impact on yield,” Mr Oatey told Farmers Weekly.

See also: More harvest news and advice

The farming enterprise near Torpoint, close to Plymouth, grows 100ha of winter barley, including 20ha of Tower, 40ha of Maris Otter and 40h of Surge. The Maris Otter, grown on very light land, is used by the local St Austell Brewery for its Tribute Ale.

Mr Oatey said the farm had about 90mm of rain in June, which had helped the winter wheat and potato crops, although the spuds – which are being irrigated – could do with some more rain.