Worst harvest ever at Milbourne

Harvest has been the worst Malcolm Sym has witnessed at Milbourne, Ponteland, Newcastle Upon Tyne – and establishing the next crop isn’t proving any easier.

“I’ve farmed here for over 30 years and this is probably the worst year I can remember,” he said.

“We had pick your own fruit at one time – strawberries, raspberries and such like, but that would have been impossible this year.”

With just under 400ha harvested, the season had been particularly variable, with yields generally down.

“Volume barley held well, with a dry weight of 59kg/hl, and yielded 7.75 t/ha,” said Mr Sym. “The second wheats were appalling and the rapeseed was about half a tonne down.”

He attributed much of the crop failure to the lack of sun throughout June and into July.

“The whole of June and first couple of weeks of July seemed to be overcast and grey. It just knocked the yield right out of the wheat.”

While bushel weights in the wheat were reasonable, at 72kg/hl, the crop seemed to lack bulk.

“The seeds were fertilised but the plant just aborted the top third of grains – it didn’t seem to have enough energy to fill them.”

While this summer had been one to forget for Mr Sym, crop establishment was also proving tricky.

“We’ve sown all of the rapeseed but it was difficult to establish,” he said. “The soil capped after drilling and there just isn’t really enough time to get rape in after barley, especially in this area.”

Although sowing was just over 30% complete, Mr Sym still had first wheats after grass and second wheats to drill.

“We got stopped at the weekend as we had four inches of rain on Sunday (23 September). “We’ll be stopped for a week or two now with the amount of rain we’ve had.”

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