MIDLANDS-based combines are fast wrapping up the remnants of the harvest, mainly spring break crops, which as expected, are proving disappointing to "disastrous".
The saving grace, says one merchant, is that there were fewer spring sowings than last season.
Barometer grower David Brightman, finished combining on heavy land at Gaydon Farm, Warks a week ago last Wednesday. Punch beans, giving an estimated 3t/ha (1.2t/acre) at the start "did not get a lot better".
On wheat his own field-scale trials suggest most first crops could have done with more nitrogen, despite the drought. Each year he tests calculated optimum rates against levels 50kg/ha (40 units/acre) higher and lower in "four combine width strips". Brigadier after beans, for example, which mostly had 200kg/ha (160 units/acre) gave 9.7t/ha (3.9t/ acre). With 50kg/ha less it gave 8.3t/ha (3.3t/acre), but with 50kg/ ha more it did 10.2t/ha (4.1t/acre).
There was a similar pattern in Hereward after oilseed rape. But second wheat Hussar, particularly affected by drought and blackgrass, produced its best yield, 7.3t/ha (2.9t/acre), from the lowest nitrogen dressing – 170kg/ha (136 units/acre).
Considering the conditions spring beans and peas on heavy land at Croft Farm, Newton Harcourt, Leics, both did "reasonably well at 23-25cwt/acre" says Brian Coates. "They had not had a drink since they went in."
Feed wheat, too, is "not far off what we expect" at 8.8t/ha (3.5t/ acre). It is a different story on mainly lighter land at Brewers Oak, Shifnal, Staffs, where Frank Dakin reports average cereal output "down about 0.25t/acre" on last year.
"But its been tremendously variable, some heavy land giving our best ever yields up to 4t/acre."