1 August 1997


LAST weeks pattern of variable winter barley yields and quality continues, but oilseed rape is doing better than expected.

By Monday evening 70-80% of winter barley in Suffolk had been cut, while trade sources put the area harvested in Norfolk at about 40%.

Good malting samples are few and far between, according to Dalgetys David Neale, with high nitrogen grain, high screenings and mediocre specific weights being common. In Suffolk later-maturing barleys are not maintaining last years yield advantage over early varieties.

Soil type holds the key to yield and quality. On light soils near Newmarket, Fanfare yielded 7t/ha (2.8t/acre) with 1.5-1.8%N and low screenings. In south Suffolk, yields are generally higher than the past two years.

Further east, Simon Tubbs of co-op, Framlingham Farmers, reports winter barley yields and quality up on last year, which Halcyon averaging 7t/ha (2.8t/acre) and Gleam, Fanfare and Plaisant up to 8.5t/ha (3.4t/acre).

Weekend rains slowed combining in Norfolk where Allied Grains Robert Brown reports worries about pre-germination in lodged barleys, but some good malting samples from standing crops.

Barometer farmer Philip Godfreys is very pleased with rape results. Alpine averaged over 4t/ha (32 cwt/acre), direct cut Synergy just over 5t/ha (41 cwt/acre) and direct cut Apex was 4.6t/ha (37 cwt/acre).

Early rape crops in Suffolk are producing good quality with respectable yields, averaging 3.5-4.5t/ha (28-36cwt/acre), says Framlingham Farmers Simon Tubbs. In south Essex Phil Cottiss Apex averaged just under 4t/ha (32 cwt/acre).

Apex oilseed rape yielded 4.6t/ha (37cwt/acre) on heavy clay at Guy Smiths Wigborough Wick Farm, St Osyth, Essex, despite receiving less than 300mm (11in) of rain up to June. Even lighter land managed 3.1t/ha (25cwt/acre).

Barley suffered more from the drought. Gleam and Fanfare averaged 6.4t/ha (2.6t/acre), well below average. One light field dropped to 5.7t/ha (2.3t/acre).

Gleam performed well on a light, brashy field share-farmed by William Ralph and John Everitt near Eight Ash Green, Colchester, Essex, yielding 7.4t/ha (3t/acre). "It was amazing. Barley has never yielded like that before here. Last year Puffin did 45-50cwt/acre."

Apex oilseed rape hit 4.6t/ha (37cwt/acre) at Highfield Farm, Perry, near Huntingdon, despite the exceptionally dry spring. Early establishment and good rooting kept the crop going, says Stephen Ellerbeck.

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