Wet conditions keep combines under wraps

Wet ground conditions and continued showers are keeping combines under wraps in all but the north of Scotland, where farmers are making good progress.

Despite buying a second combine to help speed through harvest, John Wilcox was still only halfway through his wheat at Batch Acre Hall, Stratford, Staffs.

“We did about 100 acres with it, and both combines have sat in the field since and done nothing for almost a fortnight,” he said.

Peter Hogg had been cutting wheat at up to 28% moisture near Morpeth, Northumberland, and now only had 6ha (15 acres) to finish.

“We’ve been cutting at almost embarrassing moisture contents, but it turns out we have probably made the right decision,” he said.

“There are fields flooded around here, practically to the point of being written off. Some people further north have hardly started and it’s impossible to travel at the moment.”

Combining wet wheat had caused breakdowns at Higher Clapton Farm, near Wincanton, Dorset, and grain was starting to shed.

“It’s terribly depressing, and there is an air of desperation creeping in,” said farm manager and independent agronomist Chris Batchelor.

“The wheat is almost all sprouting and specific weights are dropping fast. What we cut now may not technically make the feed grade.”

In Norfolk, Andrew Charlton was pleased to have finished harvest, but still had 28ha (70 acres) of his neighbour’s wheat to cut.

“It’s been horrendous – it’s our fifth consecutive wet harvest, but it could have been a lot worse.”

He reckoned there was still 20% of wheat still to cut in the area, with smaller farms without much drying capacity struggling the most.

But in Aberdeenshire, Richard Stephen had just made a start on his wheat, and early indications looked good. “It’s only just ready,” he said.

Although there was a lot of spring barley yet to cut in the area, he had finished all of his, and yields were above average at 6.8t/ha (2.75t/acre).


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