Harvest 2019: Suffolk barley yields disappointing after spring drought

Winter barley yields are a “bit disappointing” on the Suffolk Brecklands, with early crops yielding about 1t/ha down due largely to a prolonged spring drought.

Euston Estate, just south of Thetford, finished cutting a 90ha block of the feed variety Tower over the weekend with a yield of 6.5t/ha and low specific weight from a very variable crop.

Andrew Blenkiron, estate director, said good yields of winter barley on the very light land farm can reach 7.5t/ha in a good year, but the crop had shown the effects of the drought.

“Yields were a bit disappointing but understandable give the drought. It’s not a complete disaster and better than we thought back in April,” he told Farmers Weekly.

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The dry spring had also taken its toll on quality with specific weight slipping to about 60kg/hl, whereas animal feed compounders generally look for a minimum of 63kg/hl.

Mr Blenkiron has higher hopes for his six-row hybrid winter barley variety Bazooka which may be cut at the weekend, as the rain in June may have helped the slightly latter maturing crop.

Neighbouring Elveden Estate on similar light Breckland soil is looking to start its winter barley harvest early next week.