Winter barley harvest so far variable on quality and moisture

Winter barley has been coming into grain stores around the South with varying quality levels and moistures due to a stop-start harvest.

Oilseed rape is trickling in too, showing good oil content so far.

See also: Oilseed rape yields down 20% as combine fleet parked-up

Trinity grain

Trinity Grain received its first load of feed barley on 7 July and has since acquired a further 600t and expects another 4,000t by the end of harvest.

Specific weights have been generally lower than 63kg/hl, screenings at 0.45%, and average moisture content at 16.6%.

“Some came in last week [w/c 10 July] at 14% moisture and then we had a lot of rain again so in the last couple days we have had 18% moisture,” says Matthew Hamblen, grain store manager at Trinity Grain.

By the end of harvest, this branch expects to take delivery of 9,500t of oilseed rape, 6,000t of feed wheat, 9,000t of Grade 1 milling wheat, 3,000t of Grade 2 milling wheat, and 4,000t of Grade 4 milling wheat.

“Last year was a pretty quick harvest with the good weather,” says Matthew. “But with the weather dragging it out, this year’s harvest it’s going to be a bit longer I think.”

Another branch of Trinity Grain, in Wiltshire, received 950t feed barley, comprising 23% Bazooka, 20.6% Tardis, and 15% Feeris at an average moisture content of 16.1%.

“We haven’t had enough in really to say what varieties are standing out,” says Sean Crombie, grain store manager.

The branch has also received 265t of Craft malting barley; 15% has failed due to very low retentions from 52.6-71.9%.

“Malting barley is either very good or very poor,” says Sean.

Screenings on the remaining malting barley range from 2.3-4% and the first load of oilseed rape is expected at the store this week.

Cefetra Wessex

Cefetra Wessex, near Templecombe, currently has 1,300t of feed barley in its store that came in at varying moisture contents of between 14.4% up to 17%. Yields have averaged between 9-10t/ha, with average specific weights at 66kg/hl.

“It has been very difficult so far; it’s been stop-start,” says Simon Wilcox, farm grain origination manager at Cefetra Wessex.

There are lodging concerns over oilseed rape and barley. “Even little patches of wheat are lodging after heavy thunderstorms and winds over the weekend,” says Simon.

Devon Grain

Devon Grain, near Cullompton, has received 741t of feed barley out of the 3,000t expected to come into the store this year, as well as 10,000-12,000t of feed wheat.

Feed barley has averaged a specific weight of 62.4kg/hl, with later barley pushing the average up, and an average moisture content of 15%.

“Quality is not so good at the moment, but it is early days,” says Duncan Lyon, store manager.

In addition, 25t oilseed rape has come into Devon Grain, with an average moisture content of 8.8% and 43% oil.


In the South, Richard Tamblin has been rained off at Treleathick Farm, near Liskeard, but hopes to get going again by the end of this week (w/c 17 July).

“We’re 80% through the 283ha of Funky winter barley. The last 20% should have been finished by now, and that’s the biggest concern, now the heads are starting to crack off with the windy weather,” says Richard.

But specific weights have been good, at an average of 69kg/hl and moisture has averaged 15.4%. “The yield has averaged 7.17t-7.29t/ha, which is 10% below the farm average.”

He hopes to get into the Extase and Graham winter wheats in the next 10 days.

“It’s looking quite promising in the field at the moment; it’s nearly all first wheats or delayed second wheats, which we drilled to try to overcome take-all. I have an 18ha block of continuous winter wheat and even that’s looking quite good.”

Although it’s different story for the 280ha of Planet spring barley, which isn’t looking good at present due to unfavourable drilling conditions.   

A new venture this year is 16ha of Auckland winter oilseed rape, grown for grassweed management. “We grew it regardless of what we thought we would get back for it – we’re very apprehensive but it’s 6ft tall at the moment.”

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