Rain sparks quality concerns in Wiltshire

Rain has brought combining to a standstill once again at Alton Barnes, Devizes, Wiltshire, with about 30% of the harvest still to do.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Tim Carson. “Everything is ready now and the forecast isn’t very good. It will start spoiling if we can’t get it soon; the wheat is probably only a week away from sprouting.”

Fortunately, yields had been excellent – a record high for the farm in fact, at 11.5t/ha. “Crusoe yielded particularly well, and although the protein was low as a result I think Warburtons will still take it,” said Mr Carson.

“We had a bit surplus which we sold for export last week, which has really helped with cash flow.”

See also: Barley growers push for bigger market share.

Working in partnership with a couple of other farmers, Mr Carson was considering changing the combine next year, so had drafted in a couple of demonstration machines.

“We cut 80ha over the weekend as we had two combines going, which was a great help,” he said. “We’ve got about 120ha of wheat and spring oats left to cut.”

Winter barley yields had been good, at about 9.3t/ha, but oilseed rape was absolute rubbish. “It barely did 2.5t/ha so it hasn’t even paid for itself. I think it just didn’t like the wet winter.”

Fortunately, Mr Carson had not had to dry any of the rape or barley. “But we’re drying the wheat – we’ve taken delivery of 11,000 litres of diesel for the drier so far, which is getting towards £7000.

“And grain prices are tumbling as well – at least the yields will compensate for that.”

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