Praying for rain near Newport

Paul Bird is desperate for rain at Flashbrook Grange, Newport, Shropshire, where winter crops are struggling to establish.

“We finished harvest a while ago, and now we’re just drilling into dust,” he said.

“We had 5mm of rain yesterday (20 September) but we seem to have missed almost every bit of moisture going.

“Anything that’s in the ground is desperately short of water. My oilseed rape is up, but nearby farmers’ crops have either germinated and died or not come up at all.

“It’s desperately dry – and people are having to irrigate before lifting potatoes to prevent bruising.”

Dairy farmers in the area had been feeding winter rations for quite some time, due to the serious lack of grass. “Nothing is green at all.”

However, cereal harvest had gone extremely well, particularly considering the dry spring, said Mr Bird.

“Our Wizard winter beans didn’t look very special, but did about 4.4t/ha (1.8t/acre), which isn’t bad considering how terrible they looked.”

Wheat was very pleasing, ranging from 8.6t/ha to 11.1t/ha (3.5-4.5t/acre).

“Gladiator did well on light land, although we did irrigate. And the Solstice protein was a bit low, at 12.7%, but we got more of it than we’d expected.”

Oats were about average, at 7.4t/ha (3t/acre), with Cassia winter barley doing 8.6t/ha (3.5t/acre) and DO5 oilseed rape averaging about 5t/ha (2t/acre).

“We had some very nice surprises.”

Crop: Winter wheat
Varieties: Oakley, Gladiator and Solstice
Yield: 8.6-11.1t/ha (3.5-4.5t/acre)

Crop: Winter beans
Variety: Wizard
Yield: 4.4t/ha (1.8t/acre)

Crop: Winter oats
Variety: Gerald
Yield: 7.4t/ha (3t/acre)

Crop: Winter barley
Variety: Cassia
Yield: 8.6t/ha (3.5t/acre)

Crop: Oilseed rape
Variety: DO5
Yield: 5t/ha (2t/acre)

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