Nearing the end of harvest in Somerset

Richard Payne is nearing the end of harvest at Manor Farm, Taunton, Somerset, with just 40ha of winter wheat and 12ha of spring beans left to cut.

“Unfortunately, we’ve got crops left at either extremity of the farm, which was rather bad planning on my behalf,” he said.

Harvest results had been mixed, with Horatio winter wheat suffering from what appeared to be take-all. “But we had a sample sent off and it was actually brown footrot. The worst field did 7.7t/ha, while the best did 12.4t/ha.”

All the other varieties had averaged about 11.1t/ha, with Dickens – which also suffered from a bit of brown footrot – managing 9.9t/ha. “We’ve just got Diego and Gravitas left to cut.”

Harper, Excellium and DK Sensei averaged 4.7t/ha, said Mr Payne. “It looked better than that, and would have broken 5t/ha if it weren’t for 6-8ha that was mostly charlock – but you have what you have to sell.”

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Next year, he planned to plant Extrovert and Trinity – and having held Openfield rapeseed trials on the farm was following DGC220 (which will likely be named DK Exception) closely. “That topped the trials on our farm.”

Quartz had also done well in the trials, although most yields were fairly close, added Mr Payne. “The difference is more down to disease profile and your attitude to risk.”

Westminster spring barley had yielded exceptionally well, at 8.2t/ha, with lots of straw and a lovely sample. And Wizard winter beans had averaged 5.6t/ha.

“We tried to cut some Fuego spring beans, which yielded about 6.2t/ha, but they’re not really ready so we’ve left them,” said Mr Payne.

Having almost caught up with cultivations, he planned to start combining again over the weekend. “We’ve got five or six days of nice weather forecast, so we’ll leave it to dry out today (15 August).

“What has been surprising, given how wet the winter was, is how good the soil structure is,” he added.

“Normally we’d use the Sumo first but discing down to two inches is enough this year, apart from in the tramlines. So that is a nice saving to have on top of the dry crops – we’ve got 1000t of wheat in the barn and only had to dry 60t.”

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