Scottish harvest a week behind due to rain

Harvest continues to make steady progress, with frequent showers causing delays, especially in Scotland, where harvest is about week behind with less than 10% spring barley cut.

Wheat yields were below the five-year average, at 7.3-7.7t/ha, according to a report by the HGCA. Crops were particularly poor in East Anglia, but quality was holding up well across most of the country, at 78-80kg/hl, 275 to >300 Hagberg, and 12.5-13.5% protein. Winter barley yields were 6-10% below average, and although quality was reasonable, nitrogen contents were high, it said.

In East Anglia, spring barley yields were 50% below average, with oilseed rape out-yielding the barley in many cases, said Philip Darke, managing director at Camgrain.

Farmers only had a few days’ combining left, with the first beans now coming into store. “They look pretty diabolical; there’s been a lot of Bruchid beetle damage, and the crops are very short so yields are bound to be down.”

In Suffolk, Stuart Baker was breaking two records this harvest – potentially the highest-yielding commercial oilseed rape crop of the season, and the worst wheat ever. His Astrid oilseed rape averaged 6.33t/ha across a 13ha field, with all fields topping 5t/ha.

Wheat yields so far had been 1.2t/ha below normal, with the final 24ha looking abysmal, he said. “It won’t break any yield records, except for being the lowest-yielding wheat crop we’ve ever had.”

Martin Boulden was celebrating some outstanding yields on Romney Marsh, with a possible record crop of Claire, at 15.05t/ha over 3.77ha. “We haven’t had too bad a time at all, and I’m on drilling oilseed rape,” he said. “I’ve never seen the marsh so dry, but the ground is working quite nicely.”

Crop quality was holding up well in central southern England, where farmers still had about 40% of wheat and 10% of spring barley to cut by Tuesday (23 August), said Nick Matthews, trading director at Wessex Grain. “A lot of it was only just fit before the rain, so quality hasn’t been affected. However, there’s an awful lot of wet grain around; it’s going to take a long time to dry.”

In Wales, Colin Philliphs [CHECK SP?] was onto the last leg of harvest at Dairy Farm, Penhros, Monmouth. “The wheat yields have been very good, and the oilseed rape was exceptional – it was a dream rapeseed harvest,” he said.

However, in Scotland, harvest was now a week behind normal, with less than 10% of spring barley combined, said Trevor Harriman, general manager at Scotgrain. In East Lothian, James Drury was still combining winter barley manager at Spott Estate, after more than 150mm of rain over the past seven to 10 days. “It’s been a horrendous couple of weeks.”

The weather had also been mixed in Northern Ireland, where farmers still had a lot of spring barley to cut, said John Best at Acton House Farm, Poyntzpass, Co Armagh. “It isn’t really ready yet; normally you’d expect it to be ripe by now.” Winter barley harvest was almost complete, but wheat was scarcely underway.

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