Well ahead near Langport

Tony Higgins has had a relatively easy harvest at Middlegate Farm, Langport, Somerset, having finished combining beans on Saturday (6 September).

“We got almost all of our own crops cut by the end of July, and have now finished the contract combining as well,” he said. “We’ve done around 810ha of combining and are well ahead of ourselves, which is unusual.

“There are still odd bits of wheat and barley left to cut around here, so we can’t complain.”

Yields had been the best ever for the farm, with the stoney brash soil performing better than heavier land for once. “It just drained better over the wet winter,” said Mr Higgins.

“Wheat yields were exceptional, and the barley was very good. It’s just the oilseed rape and beans that were unexciting – and of course prices are diabolical.”

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Claire winter wheat yielded the best, at 11.4t/ha, as well as making a low grade milling premium. “When you consider how long the variety has been around, it’s pretty impressive,” said Mr Higgins.

“We won’t be growing Santiago again because of the amount of sprays it needs, but Diego and Horatio both did well.”

Carat winter barley out-yielded the California, while all the oilseed rape varieties were comparable, at about 3.5t/ha.

“Our Fuego spring beans averaged 3.7t/ha and will go for human consumption at a £20/t premium, which will help,” he added.

“We’ve made big savings by not having to dry much, but with prices where they are we won’t be any more than £25/ha better off than last year, despite much higher yields.”

Mr Higgins was now setting out to redrill some oilseed rape. “We’ve had slug problems like I’ve never seen before, so have got to go and re-sow a bit.”

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