Sun creates logistical logjam

Intakes at Aylsham Grain in Norfolk have been full pelt this week, with all crops ripening at once.

“Anyone who runs a store wants harvest to be nice and even,” said manager Andrew Dewing.

“But we’ve had four days of dry weather after a long spell of rain, and people have been cutting winter barley, oilseed rape, spring barley and wheat over the weekend – and they want it all moved on Monday morning.

“But when it comes in intense bursts like that, you just can’t get enough haulage.”

With localised showers today (14 August), some people would be able to continue combining, with extremely varied results, he said.

“There’s not much milling wheat grown in Norfolk, but there are some very ugly, dead, and diseased early samples of wheat.

“There is going to be a large slice of the crop – about 40% – that will fail on bushel weights, at 68-70kg/hl.

“But there will also be a decent amount at 72-77kg/hl, which will take some proper segregation and work to put in the right place.

“Millers will have to lower the bar on Hagberg and bushel weight, without doubt.”

With about 5% of the wheat cut, some yields had been disastrous, with even the good crops yielding below average, said Mr Dewing. “I would rate them to be between 15% and 20% down on farmers’ hopes.”

Spring barley yields were about average, but quality was looking excellent. “There are some disease concerns, but mycotoxin tests are well within tolerance.

“Nitrogen contents are low and there are some good bold samples, which I’m aware is not necessarily the case in other parts of the country.”

Winter barley had also been pleasing, with good yields and quality, he added. “There were a few rejections for high screenings, primarily in Flagon.

“Pearl produced a fantastic sample, but didn’t yield as well – I think Cassata and Winsome will be the varieties for the future.”

A lot of oilseed rape in the area was grown on virgin rapeseed ground, after producers dropped sugar beet, said Mr Dewing.

“Although yields have been lower than last year, they have still been good. Oil contents are also down, at 41-43% compared to 46-47% last year.

“I think rapeseed will be very much at the fore in farmers’ rotations next year, because prices are very good. It will put a lot of pressure on sugar beet production.”

See more