Year of the micro-climate

Soil type and local rainfall have been the key drivers of yields this year, with variety choice playing a far lesser role, according to Masstock agronomist David Neale.

“The crops have been very variable – we’ve had some superb yields and some truly awful yields. Overall, I’m expecting the wheat crop to be down about 10%.”

Wheat bushelweight and quality was generally good, although farmers should be aware of small grain size. “And we don’t want any more rain right at this minute.”

Southern counties on moisture-retentive chalk subsoils had fared better than the Cotswolds on brash and gravel soils.

“They have fiercely caught the drought – water levels are dire and some farmers are 20% down on yield.

“That prevails through to the central and Eastern area, ranging from unchanged to 20% below last year.”

Yields in the South West were mixed, according to local micro-climates, while the West Midlands looked reasonable due to heavier soils and more rain.

East Anglia had generally suffered badly with drought, although stronger soils in Essex had fared better.

Crops in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire proved variable, with prospects improving the further north you travelled, said Mr Neale.

“The crop that is really suffering is beans – in general they have just wilted and collapsed.”

With sharply better grain prices farmers had, sensibly, been selling grain both for this harvest and the coming two years. “It is such an opportunity, it shouldn’t be missed.

“But end users have not bought much for this harvest, so it will be important to keep in regular contact with your grain buyer to ensure you get movement when you want it.”

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