Held up in Essex

A deluge of 23mm of rain yesterday (10 August) has brought harvest to a grinding halt at Andrew Kerr’s New House Farm, North Weald, Essex.

“The biggest worry is that we’ve got 100 acres (40ha) of straw lying out in the swath which the contractors now can’t get to – it’s holding up fieldwork operations.”

Fortunately, Mr Kerr had cut all of his wheat except for 24ha (60 acres) of Barrie hard red wheat.

“We had a four-day breakdown, and took the wheat at 15-18% – I’m glad we did because the forecast isn’t great and Hagbergs might start to slip.

“Yields were not fantastic – the best was Solstice first wheat at 8.6t/ha (3.5t/acre) – the worst struggled to make 7.4t/ha (3t/acre). It was very much dependent on the soil type.”

Cordiale and Gallant had disappointed at 1.2t/ha (0.5t/acre) below Solstice, while Viscount as a second wheat managed 8t/ha (3.2t/acre).

“The short strawed early varieties have suffered in the drought much more than the later feed ones.

“Direct drilled Cordiale held up better than the cultivated land because the moisture retention was better.”

Wheat harvest was at least 50% complete in the area, but that varied from hardly started to almost finished, said Mr Kerr.

Oilseed rape had been the star crop of the year, with Palmedor high erucic rape yielding 3.8t/ha (1.5t/acre). “We’re quite pleased with that – financially, that will stack up better than the wheat.”

But the Barrie red wheat, which was now ready to cut, looked as if it would disappoint, he added.

“I’ve got no great hopes for it – it just died in the drought and the second dose of fertiliser never had any rain to help take-up.”

Crop: Winter wheat
Varieties: Cordiale and Gallant
Yield: 7.4/ha (3/acre)

Variety: Solstice
Yield: 8.6t/ha (3.5t/acre)

Variety: Viscount
Yield: 8t/ha (3.2t/acre)

Crop: Oilseed rape
Variety: Palmedor
Area: 65ha (160 acres)
Yield: 3.8t/ha (1.5t/acre)

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