Back at work after the wet

27 August 1999

Back at work after the wet

HAVING been stood down for nine days, we eventually got the combine working again before lunch on Monday, Aug 16.

The moisture content had fallen by this time to 18.5% and by mid-afternoon, with plenty of sun, had dropped still further to 17%.

But, four-and-a-half hours later the thundery rain returned to stop work again after we had gathered in just under 70t. The wheat harvested was Malacca and best estimates revealed that it was yielding about 10.5t/ha (4.2t/acre) adjusted to 14.5% moisture.

We have since had the wheat sampled and tested which shows interesting results for both Malacca and Abbot pre and post-rain.

The figures for the high moisture wheat will change slightly after it has been dried and conditioned but things could have been much worse, and may become so before harvest is complete.

Our thanks to BDR at Bourne for the results in table 2. The company, which also tells me that Class 1 milling wheat is trading at £90/t spot on Aug 19; a premium of £20 above feed wheat and £5 over Abbot, which is now regarded as Class 2.

I have not yet sold any milling wheat but have sold 375t of feed wheat forward for next May collection at £80/t plus premiums as applicable.

Results from the Maris Otter malting barley sold on contract to Gowlett Grain Ltd and collected in July have been finalised.

The yield was 165t off 27.75ha or 5.95t/ha (2.4t/acre) and the price per tonne net of levies and weighbridge charges was £105.11.

The gross margin for this crop and the comparison with harvest 1998, are shown in table 1. The income for harvest 1999 has improved greatly, mainly on the back of price. Premiums of £40/t for nitrogen levels below 1.6% were achieved on all loads and discounts for screenings amounted to only £1.70/t overall.

In these times of falling prices and depressed returns it is pleasing to report an increase in gross margin over the past year. The straw obviously has helped to boost the overall return by nearly £112/ha (£45/acre) but in the light of recent weather the bonus of having baled, carted and stacked 124t of bright, clean barley straw for our pig unit is, to say the least, comforting.

To match this feed wheat sold spot at £70/t would need to yield over 11t/ha (414t/acre) or 9.5t/ha (3.8t/acre) if taking the straw out of the equation.

On this basis we intend to commit 25.64ha (63 acres) to Maris Otter next season and hope that the sales of real ale using real malting barley will not fall.

The Mongita perennial ryegrass moved in July has been cleaned to produce a net seed weight of 21.65t or a yield of 1.8t/ha (0.7t/acre). This has been achieved from a harvested weight of 25.6t producing a seed purity of 84.5% and is the best result for some years.

The price and cleaning charges are yet to be determined so that we are some way off from working out a gross margin.

At least, we managed to sell the bulk of the threshed ryegrass straw and that has earned over £3600 or £300/ha (£121/acre), only a few bales from the top of the stacked heaps have had to be dumped due to spoiling by rain.

The wet weather has enabled us to press on with slurry spreading and moving FYM into fields ready for spreading by contractor.

The plough has been busy too, with barley stubble being turned over ready for drilling oilseed rape later this month. &#42

Table 1: Easton Lodge margins

Harvest year

1999 – 27.75ha 1998 – 11.07ha

Per ha Total Per ha Total


Primary yield (t) 5.95 165.02 5.85 64.78

Price £625.05 £17,345.25 £485.12 £5,370.26

Secondary-straw £111.91 £3,105.50 £117.89 £1,305.00

Other – area aid £235.60 £6,537.90 £238.34 £2,638.42

Total income £972.56 £26,988.65 £841.35 £9,313.68

Variable costs

Seed £48.05 £1333.25 £42.37 £469.00


Nitrogen £26.67 £740.17 £33.73 £373.38

Compound – – £32.56 £360.40


Herbicides £14.19 £393.65 £11.63 £128.73

G/regs £20.91 £580.14 £18.87 £208.91

Fungicides £66.03 £1,832.32 £66.26 £733.53

Pesticides £1.60 £44.48 £0.81 £9.00

Adjuvants £7.92 £219.91 £6.53 £72.24

Trace elements £8.11 £225.13 – –

Total variable costs £193.48 £5,369.05 £212.76 £2,355.19

Gross margin £779.08 £21,619.60 £628.59 £6,958.49

Table 2: How rain affected quality

Abbot Malacca

Pre-rain Post-rain Pre-rain Post-rain

Moisture 15.8% 18.5% 15.3% 17%

Hagberg 300+ 236 300+ 206

Specific weight 81.5kg/hl 77kg/hl 79kg/hl 74kg/hl

Protein (dry matter basis) 13.2% 13.6% 11.9% 12.6%

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