Weather puts a damper on harvest

Harvest is progressing apace across the UK with early yield indications looking better then expected. But unseasonal weather has taken its toll with pod shatter reported in some oilseed rape crops and rising fears of wheat lodging.

Winter barley harvest should be almost complete south of the M62 by Friday (30 July), said Jonathan Hoyland, barley trader at Frontier. “Yields are down on last year, but are probably close to the five-year average.”

Feed barley was averaging 6.8t-8.5t/ha, with malting barley pegged at 6.5-7.3t/ha. Crops on heavy or chalk ground performed the best, while those in the north-east suffered the most from drought, he said.

Bushel weights were high, with Frontier’s first export vessel averaging 70kg/hl. “Screenings are low – the plants haven’t tillered much and instead put all their efforts into the grain site.”

With about a third of winter malting barley tested, 80% passed below 1.8% nitrogen.

Tipple spring barley at Edward Parsons’ Templemans Farm, Redlynch, Wiltshire, was also yielding better than expected, at 6.2-7.4t/ha – down on last year’s bumper 9.1t/ha. “I didn’t expect much of it, but it has a good, bold, sample.”

James Fuggle’s winter oats were producing an excellent sample at Chessons Farm, Wadhurst, Sussex, with a bushel weight of 52-58kg/hl. But with oilseed rape and winter barley crops late to ripen, and oats, wheat and spring barley ripening early, all crops were now ready at once.

Cannington Grain Store, Somerset, was intaking winter barley, oilseed rape, oats and wheat at the same time. Marketing manager Ian Eastwood said: “Most of what’s coming in is reasonably dry, which helps.”

The first few loads of milling wheat were arriving, with Solstice yielding reasonably well and quality excellent, at more than 13% protein, 300 Hagberg and 77kg/hl. “Harvest expectations are average – there are no records – but it is not as disappointing as we expected.”

However, oilseed rape broke records at Stephen Horn’s Bushy Down Farm, Droxford, Hampshire, despite suffering frost damage earlier in the year. The 57ha of Cabernet yielded 4.8t/ha over a weighbridge, while Vision averaged 4.6t/ha.

Overall, rapeseed yields were about 3% down on last year, said United Oilseeds trading manager Owen Cligg. Yields ranged from about 2.5-5t/ha.

In Lincolnshire, hailstorms decimated Ben Atkinson’s oilseed rape crop at Grange Farm, Rippingdale. Yield loss ranged from 0.5-4t/ha in crops that were otherwise yielding up to 5t/ha (2t/acre), he said. “I think everyone in this area will insure against hail for the rest of time.”

There were also several reports of wheat lodging after wind and heavy rain, particularly those where the straw is longer than expected despite receiving applications of growth regulators.

• With unpredictable weather continuing, HGCA is reminding growers to measure and record rainfall pre-harvest. This is the last step of the mycotoxin risk assessment, generating the final score for inclusion on grain passports.

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