Rain puts harvest on hold in Yorkshire

Contractor Keith Snowball is waiting for a break in the weather before resuming harvest at clients’ farms near Brandsby, York.

“We’ve finished harvest bar 11ha of oats and 26ha of spring beans. We tried the beans on Tuesday (18 September) but they were 30% moisture, so we left them again.”

Continued showers meant there hadn’t been a decent combining day for about 10 days, said Mr Snowball.

“There are still some sizeable lumps of wheat left to cut in the area. I went to help a friend last week and we left a patchwork of wet blocks that we couldn’t get to with the combine – the whole of the Vale of York is like that.”

Wheat yields had been about 2.5-3.7t/ha below average, at about 5.8t/ha. “Yields ranged from Santiago at 3.7t/ha to Diego at 8.6t/ha.

“The crops have looked fantastic, but there’s just nothing in them. Diego, Istabraq and Grafton did better, with the earlier crops like Gallant, Viscount and Claire not doing as well.

“We put up a new grain shed for this harvest, and it’s got a pathetic little bit of corn in the corner.”

Oilseed rape had also been disappointing, but spring barley wasn’t too bad, at 5.5-6t/ha, he added.

Mr Snowball had drilled about half the oilseed rape expected. “One customer has abandoned the idea of drilling any oilseed rape at all, and another has left his heavy land aside.

“When you’re drilling 10 days later than normal you really do need a good seedbed. You can’t plough and drill straight away because the soil needs time to dry, and these showers just keep topping it up.

“Even sandy soil is wet today – and it’s too wet to take bales of the fields in some places. We’ve made a real mess with the combines and trailers.”

With cold temperatures of 13-14ºC, oilseed rape which had been drilled was making very slow progress, he added.

“We’re about on target for drilling wheat and winter barley, but the forecast isn’t great.”

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