Harvest delayed by wet weather for south-west growers

Combines might have got off the starting line early for some, but wet weather has blown in and it is certainly putting a damper on harvest.

Farmers Weekly speaks to a range of growers in the South West to find out the latest harvest updates.

See also: Stop-start winter barley harvest yields well despite storms


For arable farmer and contractor John Moss, it’s been a contrasting two years for his home farm and contracting customers in Saltash.

Starting his winter barley at the beginning of July, he was – albeit momentarily – ahead of the game.

“We typically start between 12-14 July, so we got in a bit earlier, but the weather has halted things – and the forecast is bad for the next week,” he says.

Combining 61ha of winter barley, comprising two-row feed varieties Bolton and Bordeaux, yields have not been the most promising, about 5.5t/ha and 6.8t/ha, respectively.

John still has 80ha to go.

“In the Bolton, we’ve seen disease pressure from leaf stripe – this led to the crop drying in June, and because of that, it is looking slim and slight,” he adds.

Growing spring barley for seed, John is doubtful with yield.

“It’s had a rough ride but the seed inspector has passed it – I’m just a bit concerned about what it will yield.”

He still has some 708ha of combinable crops to go – comprising oilseed rape, winter and spring barley, and winter oats.


Across the border, farm owner Jerry Sanders-Carr is hoping the weather plays ball as he prepares to harvest a promising winter barley crop of Momento on Crablake Farm in the Exe Valley.

“It is an average timing for harvest,” says Jerry. “Winter barley and oilseed rape will be ready at the same time.”

Jerry says hybrid oilseed rape has good pod numbers, while his winter wheats look well but have suffered from the dry more than winter barley.

“Skyway spring barley has been disappointing, as it struggled in April and May with yields nowhere near the 6.2t/ha we usually expect”, reports Jerry.


At Perrins Hill Farm, near Tintinhull, Somerset, grower James Pullen started his 16ha of Valerie winter barley on 7 July before the rain showers.

Cut dry at 14.8% moisture content, the crop yielded 7t/ha.

“Farm average yield is 8t/ha, though there should have been more,” says James.

All barley is sold as feed to a nearby dairy farm. He also has four varieties of winter wheat to harvest – Graham, Extase, Champion and Typhoon.

“I don’t think it will be a record harvest after the high temperatures in June,” he says.

James adds that 20% of the winter wheat is sold before harvest, and the rest later in the grain marketing year.


Moving further north in the South West, David Hues at Galteemore Farm in Beckhampton, admits it has been a difficult start to harvest.

“Here, we’ve been spoilt for the past few years – but it feels like a return to the less favourable norm,” he says.

“We started on 7 July, which is a bit earlier than usual and we are just trying to get out when we can, with this wet weather making it very difficult.

“The 61ha of winter barley we’ve done so far is coming in at 18-22% moisture.”

His plan is to get moving on the remaining 142ha of winter barley, when a break in the weather allows, before entering oilseed rape, spring barley, and winter beans – which make up his 809ha of combinable crops.

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