Harvest 2020: Half way, with yields down, wheat quality good

Half the cereals and oilseed rape harvest is complete, with yields generally down on 2019, while winter wheat grain quality is being described as good.

Some 47% of wheat, 98% of winter barley, 12% of spring barley and 89% of winter oilseed were combined by Tuesday 11 August, according to the second British harvest progress report by crop consultant Adas for the AHDB.

Just over 1.7m hectares of cereals and oilseed rape are harvested, with rapid progress made in the past week, with winter wheat being cut in most regions and progressing well in the south of England.

See also: Harvest 2020: Lincs grower cuts OSR crop at exceptional yield

Lower yields 

Winter wheat yields, based on early maturing varieties from the south of England, are down 7-13%, averaging 7.3-7.8t/ha, compared with the five-year average yield of 8.4 t/ha.

Early milling quality is good, with good specific weights. Hagbergs are averaging well over 250, with good protein levels. Grain appearance is good, although there are reports of shrivelled grains from second and third wheats.

For winter barley, the yield estimate is 6.3-6.6t/ha, down 7-11% on the five-year average yield of 7.1t/ha. Yields are variable, with hybrid varieties typically yielding 8.5t/ha and occasional reports of crops above 10t/ha.

Early spring barley yields, based on a small sample of crops, show yields of 5-7.5t/ha on heavier land, but on lighter soils yields are reduced to 4-6.5t/ha.

Winter oilseed rape yields are averaging 2.6-3t/ha, down 14-26% on the five-year average of 3.5t/ha and calculated based on those fields that were taken to harvest.

Wheat quality

  • Specific weights Variable, with a typical range of 77-79kg/hl, but some crops were reaching as high as 84kg/hl which has helped to balance out yields on thin crops.
  • Hagberg falling number Early indications are that values which measure gluten quality are typically 270-300.
  • Protein Higher than average for milling wheats, with early reports showing values of 12-14%.

Winter barley quality

  • Specific weight Typically 62-69kg/hl but highly variable, with some reports as high as 78kg/hl in Yorkshire, but as low as 55kg/hl on light soils.
  • Grain nitrogen for malting varieties Average 1.8%. Low yields from later-sown crops are linked to some high nitrogen contents in the 1.5-2.1% range.

Spring barley quality 

  • Specific weight Range of 64-65kg/hl from early harvested crops.
  • Grain nitrogen for malting varieties Range of 1.5-2.2%. Levels are high in the East of England, with many samples above 2%. 

Oilseed rape quality 

  • Oil content Range 43-45%, averaging 44%.
  • Moisture Average at harvest of 8%.