5 September 1997


AS combining draws to a close, two former barometer farms hit by drought in 1996 thank June rainfall for returning crop yields to their long term average. Elsewhere excess moisture is being blamed for poor quality grain and output down on last year.

Robert Claydon reckons wheats at Silverley Hall Farms, Newmarket, finished two weeks ago, should average 9t/ha (3.6t/acre) – about 1t/ha (0.4t/acre) up on last year. Lowest specific weight is 78kg/hl.

"We have had a good harvest," adds Roger Middleditch who completed combining at Priory Farm, Wrentham, Norfolk, on Aug 21. "Our Riband averaged 73cwt/acre and yields are slightly better than last year all round." Further inland ear diseases have been a legacy of the wet June and yields have been lower than some growers expected, he reports.

Herts and Essex Grain Growers co-op manager Nigel Whittaker estimates wheat yields are 4-8% below 1996 levels. "Quality is better than what I hear from other areas, but samples dont look pretty." Blackpoint in potential biscuit making varieties could pose problems, he suggests.

HEG member Trevor Horsnell reports very variable wheat performance from Gorrells Farm, Highwood, Essex. "Our average is 8.35t/ha which is about 0.5t down on last year." Brigadier after rape gave nearly 1t/ha (0.4t/acre) less than as a third wheat, he notes.

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