Harvesting between the showers in Buckinghamshire

This season has been the most challenging Buckinghamshire grower Colin Rayner can remember in 31 years of farming.

Harvest began on the 7 July with 40ha of Pearl winter barley. It yielded 7.5t/ha (3t/acre) with little straw, at a disappointing 54kg/hl specific weight and with high nitrogen levels (2.1%). The sample wasn’t clean, either, he said. “It was dull and weathered.”

For the past ten days he had been grabbing what he could of 160ha (400 acres) ES Astrid and Expert oilseed rape between showers. He told FWi he hadn’t had a single day without rain. “But as long as the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, we’ll cut.”

Moisture contents had been 12% or less, while yields were surprisingly up to 3.1-3.5t/ha (25-28 cwt/acre). That was despite the crop being very black and a lot of poppies and mayweeds growing through it. He partly blamed the April drought for the weed problems.

He planned to start cutting wheat – Claire and Soissons – in the middle of next week, weather permitting. Both had been severely damaged by storms, however.

But he thought he was fortunate to have done as much as he had because at another farm in Essex he was associated with, combines had stopped entirely.

Mr Rayner was also frustrated by the single farm payment scheme. Difficulties with paperwork cost him almost £4000 last year.

  • Crop: Winter barley (Pearl)
  • Yield: 7.5t/ha
  • Area: 40ha
  • Nitrogen: 2.1%
  • Specific Weight: 54kg/hl


  • Crop: Oilseed rape
  • Varieties: ES Astrid & Expert
  • Area: 160ha
  • Yield: 3.1-3.5 t/ha
  • Moisture: 12% or less

*Harvest Highlights 2007 sponsored by RAGT

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