Playing catch- up with drilling after the rain

Graham McIntyre

Broomhill Farm, Nottinghamshire

Two-thirds of the wheat area has been cut by our Midlands Barometer farmer, Graham McIntyre, despite an 11-day delay due to the rain.

The high-erucic acid oilseed rape (HEAR) harvest has been completed, with yields averaging 3.6t/ha. This was the last year for variety Maplus, which is making way for new variety Eraton.

“Eraton looks more promising, but just needs a few tweaks on how we grow it. The problems came where the crop was infected by sclerotinia, went flat and then got hammered by the pigeons,” says Mr McIntyre.

The wheat harvest has been gathering momentum since the wet weather stopped and at the time of writing Mr McIntyre had some 100ha of winter wheat left to cut. There is 30ha of limestone land left to cut before returning to 70ha of Gallant milling wheat on sand land. This will leave the 70ha of spring wheat split between Mulika and Paragon.

“Wheat yields have been predictably constant. No matter what variety we have grown or where they sit in the rotation, it seems to be having little effect on their output so far. Yields have been hovering around the 7.5-8t/ha range so far, with no real winners or losers. Bushel weights, however, have been disappointingly low, ranging from 66-72 like everyone else’s,” says Mr McIntyre.

Harvesting delays and wet conditions under foot are hampering progress with winter rape drilling. “Should the ground dry a little during the week, then planting the Eraton will begin at the weekend.”


James Taylor

Down Ampney Estate, Gloucestershire

Some 120mm rain fell in August and more importantly, 90mm of this fell during the critical wheat cutting period of 10 to 26 August. In that time, western Barometer farmer James Taylor and his team only managed to get the combine out on three occasions.

“The weather looks better from now on and with two large combines we are hoping to make much progress,” says Mr Taylor.

“The trouble is that you really can’t start cutting before 10.30am in the morning and then by 8pm the dew comes down, moistures begin to rise and the combines get slower,” says Mr Taylor, who manages the Co-op’s Down Ampney Estate. “At this point you might as well go home rather than risk blocking the combine.”

The oilseed rape harvest is now complete and the three varieties (DK’s Extrovert, Excellium and Cabernet) have managed a combined average of 3.75t/ha, which is a little way off last year’s 4.2t/ha average.

“It’s not surprising when the crop was on the point of being badly affected by drought in March, a sharp frost of -4C around flowering time and then having to stand with wet feet for months,” says Mr Taylor.

Winter linseed crops have been in a word “disastrous” and won’t be featuring in next year’s crop rotation. The crop never really recovered from a 50mm deluge of rain in May when in a very short space of time the crop was flattened and never really recovered.

The only plus has been that it combined well. “We picked a really hot day to harvest it and the combines found it easy going,” he says.

“The 214ha of spring barley has not fared so well this season and the yields have varied between 4.5-5t/ha. Not only has the yield been disappointing, but it won’t make malting either,” says Mr Taylor.

Progress is being made on the wheat front, but it has been slow. Most of the winter wheat at the farm has been cut with yields near 7.5-7.7t/ha. Now the emphasis will be on cutting the remaining area at Down Ampney. “Even though 607ha sounds a lot, with two big combines we can blow a big hole out of it in a good week.

“The 78ha Wizard winter beans are turning fast and, if we are not careful, will be on the floor. It’s typical – everything is coming together at the same time,” says Mr Taylor.

Oilseed rape planting is a little behind schedule with about 15% planted, but with the combined efforts of a 5m Väderstad Top Down/Bio Drill and 8m Rapide drill they can cover 100ha a day. New this year has been a toolbar fitted to the front of the Rapide drill that cultivates ahead of the drill, so cutting out a pass.

Keep up with the Barometer harvest on our dedicated Barometer page.

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