28 August 1998

Some done, others still busy


Some growers in the south and east have now finished harvest,

with wheats remaining good but break crops very mixed.

Crops elsewhere are being snatched as and when the weather

allows. farmers weeklys arable team reports on progress

WHEAT is all done, apart from on higher land in Hampshire and Wiltshire, where up to seven days combining remained on Monday.

Most peas are also in and a start has been made on beans. In both cases yields are well below 1997.

Grain trader Steve Harrison of SCATS at Robertsbridge, East Sussex reports wheat 95% done last weekend and 1.2t/ha (0.5t/acre) below 1997. Protein is 0.5% lower, Hagberg 50-60 lower and specific weight 1kg/hl higher. Best performers have been Riband and Consort.

Although growers are reasonably happy with yield, which mainly matches last year, milling quality is disappointing, says Hampshire Grains Mike Clay. Hagbergs range from 70 to 300 and protein 10-12%. Specific weights have been quite good, averaging 77.5kg/hl.

Barometer farmer Patrick Godwin cut the last of his wheat at Billingshurst, West Sussex on August 17. Against the regions trend overall yield is slightly up on last year.

May-drilled Eiffel peas ended the harvest on Monday. At 2.5t/ha (1t/acre) they were below average for the area.

Further west, on downland near Salisbury, Wilts, Peter Lamb still had over a third of his wheat to clear this week. Yields are 5% below last year, but needed no drying.

Although East Sussex growers John Chambers and son Matthew kept wheat standing at Heathfield, Soissons yielded only 5.7t/ha (2.3t/acre), almost a quarter down on 1997. They have been consoled by 297 Hagberg, 11.2% protein and 76kg/hl specific weight.

Other varieties, all finished last Thursday, fared better than expected and close to last year.

At Ickham, near Wingham, East Kent, Patrick Mayess wheat, all in store by the middle of last week, performed a little better than last years rather average result. Both Equinox and Soissons yielded about 9t/ha (3.7t/acre), slightly better than Brigadier, he estimates.

"It has been a swings-and-roundabouts season. Our wheat is pretty good, but Bunting peas at 25-30cwt/acre are a bit down on last year and Falcon and Apex rape did only just over 20cwt/acre compared with 38cwt in 1997."


IN the east and south-east wheat is almost finished, but in north Cambs, Bedfordfordshire and parts of Norfolk a third of the crop was left to cut earlier this week.

"Yields have ranged from amazing to dreadful. But overall they are a good average," says Richard Whitlock of Banks Agriculture.

"Most first wheats have done well under good management doing 5t/acre. But take-all affected second wheats have been as low as 2t/acre. Lightland crops seem to have done better than normal due to the wet June."

Quality is generally above average with specific weight 76kg/hl or better. Proteins are variable and 0.5-0.75% down on last year, says Mr Whitlock. Hagbergs are not exceptional.

In south Essex Andy Kerr had 10ha (24 acres) of Rialto left when weekend rain stopped cutting at Wyldingtree Farm, North Weald. "Yields from first wheats have been pretty good, with around 4t/acre from Riband and Rialto and Equinox close behind.

"Our second wheats were a bit disappointing at 2.5-3.5t/acre. Strobilurin-treated crops were better and less variable than those given triazoles."

Quality was good, with Rialto at 81kg/hl, Riband 77-80, Equinox 77 and Abbot 82. Hagbergs are mostly 250-300.

Robert Claydon finished combining wheat a week ago at Silverley on the Cambs/Suffolk border. "First wheats did over 10t/ha with Brigadier doing stupendously well. Even late drilled Riband was around 10t. Second wheats, mostly Buster and Hussar, did around 8.25t. On very light land Soissons yielded 7.5t with 11% protein and Hagbergs of around 250."

Most of Mr Claydons Target winter beans have been cut. "They are yielding just over 1.5t/acre, which is down on the 1.75t we normally expect. Bunting canning peas have done around 1.25t/acre."

In central Suffolk Oliver Knowland has finished wheat at Crows Hall, Debenham. "Both yield and quality have been good and I only dried 10t," he says.

In Norfolk Aart Kerkhof near Great Yarmouth had one days combining to do when rain stopped harvest. "Crops on the marsh were very average – lots of tillers were lost during heavy Easter rains," he says. Caxton, Charger, Consort, Hussar, Abbot and Hereward are averaging 7.5t/ha ( t/acre), which is 1t/ha (0.4t/acre) less than normal.


MOST peas have been cleared, generally in good condition, though yields are well down on normal.

Beans and spring rape have been started and early-drilled linseed is expected to be ready by the end of this week.

About a quarter of the cereal harvest remained to be gathered at the start of the week.

Barometer grower Stewart Hayllor in south Devon finished his own crops with a disappointing second wheat at about 6.2t/ha (2.5t/acre). Apart from that he has had a good harvest.

Wessex Grain on the Somerset/Dorset border reports peas small in size and yields typically down 1.2t/ha (0.5t/acre). A few beans have been started and linseed was expected at the end of the week. Some beans have been cut but not enough to assess results yet.

Richard Payne in Somerset blamed inadequate weed control for his pea yield of about 3.1t/ha (1.25t/acre) dried weight. His Target winter beans disappointed overall, probably averaging under 2.5t/ha (1t/acre).

A north-facing field was particularly poor with few pods on the main part of the crop, while a west-facing field yielded quite well. Liaison spring rape yielded just under 2.5t/ha (1t/acre), again hit by inadequate weed control.

Farmer/contractor John Moss in south-east Cornwall expects to start linseed and spring rape at the end of the week.

From the Roseland peninsula Howard Emmett reports good pea crops at 4.4-5 t/ha (1.75/2t/acre). His own Aries spring rape produced a pleasing 2.5t/ha (1t/acre). He still had 80ha (200 acres) of wheat to cut.


PROGRESS, yields and quality vary greatly, but overall reports suggest many growers are relieved.

Wheat output, in the east at least, is better than expected with good specific weights a particular surprise. Beans, often quite flat, are too soon to call.

Near Spalding, Lincs, where just 10% of wheat was uncut by Tuesday, Richard Caswell says that despite extremely disappointing second crops, final output at Priory Farm, Horbling should hit the five-year 9t/ha (3.65t/acre) mean. But proteins are as low as 9.5%.

Barometer grower Steven McKendrick was 80% through wheats at Blakenhall Park, Burton-on-Trent, before 25mm (1in) of weekend rain. "We really cracked on last week." Once again Riband, well suited to the land, has done well at up to 11.1t/ha (4.5t/acre). But second crop Brigadier gave only 6.7t/ha (2.7t/acre). "I am glad we had only 30 acres."

Elsewhere, notably in Warks, the picture is more depressing, according to Des Wells, who manages Cargills Kineton Grain Store and share farms 445ha (1100 acres) nearby. "Some yields are down to 2t/acre and there is quite a bit of doom and gloom." Earlier waterlogging is often to blame, he believes.

With 80% cut Richard Wiggin estimates wheat yield at Bannisters Meadow Farm, Lighthorn, Warks will be 0.9t/ha (0.35t/acre) lower than last year. But specific weights, with Abbot up to 82g/hl, have been unaccountably good given the dull weather earlier on, he says.

"Quality this year is generally quite good and occasionally very good indeed," says Brian Wells of Notts-based Wells Agriculture. But with only half the crop combined in the Mansfield area some growers are starting to become concerned, he says.

Much of Peter Limbs wheat at Normanton Larches Farm, N Notts, has only recently ripened. But yields are on budget at 8t/ha (3.2t/acre) and Rialtos specific weight is up to 84kg/hl. "I am pleasantly surprised."


ONE fine week would see wheat finished; with 75% cut by Tuesday overall yields were at least average, and quality generally good, but variations are huge. Spring barley and oats have performed well.

"It continues very variable," says Glencore Grains Robert Kerr. "There are some very good first wheats, and some appalling second wheats. In some cases they are so bad growers do not want to admit their yields." High bushel weights are pushing tonnages up for many. "Even feed wheats are averaging over 76kg/hl."

Allied Grains John Jones, reports good protein and Hagbergs. Rialto alone seems to be struggling, possibly due to lodged crops. Spring barley has been exceptional. "Optic and Chariot have done 2.5-3t/acre, with low nitrogen and screenings. Many are asking why they bother growing winter barley – 2.25t/acre was a good crop locally." Oat samples are bright and bold, but despite the quality, prices are poor, he adds.

On the Hereford/Worcs/Salop border, Simon Morgan echoes that. "The oats are very good, 50-52kg/hl when typically we get 47-48kg/hl, and yields are up at 3t/acre." A third of his wheat is still to cut. So far yields are only slightly down, at 8.6t/ha (3.5t/ha) on Abbot and Hereward.

At Ross-on-Wye, barometer grower Steven Mackintosh had about three days combining left earlier this week. "Yields have been variable. Lowest was late planted wheat after potatoes, at 7.9t/ha, right through to 10.2t/ha of Consort off sandy ground." But naked oats have disappointed at 5.1t/ha (2.1t/acre), nearly 1.5t/ha (0.6t/acre) under budget.

Near Wolverhampton, John Johnsons spring barley yields are typical for the region. "Riviera did well at 2.5t/acre." Abbot wheat cut before last weekends washout was just above average for the farm, at 8.2t/ha (3.3t/acre), with 11.5% protein and 396 Hagberg. Now he says harvest is on a knife edge, needing six days of good weather to complete Consort and lodged Rialto.


RAINFALL last weekend slowed harvest progress considerably, with reports ranging from 4-33mm (0.1-1.3in) of rain.

In Northumberland much of the wheat harvest is still a week or two away. But in parts of North Humberside it is finished.

At Peter Hoggs New Houses Farm, Causey Park alongside the A1 north of Alnwick winter barley yielded 3.7-5t/ha (1.5-2 t/acre) of very thin grain. "We have dressed out tonnes of screenings."

Feed oats have done quite well at 5t/ha (2t/acre) and a crop of contracted naked oats stood well with no nitrogen and is expected to yield 3.7t/ha (1.5t/acre).

Slightly further north, Hetton Estate at Lowick lies inland from Holy Island. Here too wheats are a good week of being ready, no doubt because strobilurin programmes have kept them green, comments Peter Guy. Regina winter barley missed malt grade because of high nitrogen. It yielded only 5.4t/ha (2.2t/acre). "Pastoral was our best variety this year." Most of the spring barley has been cut at 6.2t/ha (2.5 t/acre) with 1.2% nitrogen and 58kg/hl.

First wheats on Steve Shaws farm at Aston near Runcorn have been a pleasant surprise. Abbot came off at 78kg/hl, 11% protein and 300 Hagberg, while Consort yielded 8.7t/ha (3.5t/acre) and Brigadier 8 t/ha (3.25t/acre), both with good specific weights. Mr Shaw puts the performance down to good disease control.

Winter oat Gerald has also done well, yielding 8t/ha (3.25t/acre) with outstanding quality.

In Holderness, wheat is 90% done on Chris Kirkwoods Carr Farm, Rimswell. Continuous wheat avoided take-all to average 9.4t/ha (3.8t/acre) and 73-76 kg/hl specific weight.

Contract drying for five other farms shows some yields below 7.4t/ha (3t/acre). Specific weights have been much better that last years disastrous levels, but that is small compensation for poor winter barley and oilseed rape results, comments Mr Kirkwood.


HARVEST is still a stop – start affair and about a fortnight behind the normal schedule.

Adrian Fisher, grain manager at Glencore Grain, Brechin, reported the first intake of Scottish wheats on Monday. "It is the same story as barley – good quality but low yield. We had some Norman at 76kg bushel weight and Riband at 75kg. But both were yielding only 2t/acre with disease, particularly take-all, to blame."

Most Tayside wheat was 10 days away on Monday and only 10% of spring barley had been combined, he added. "Prisma is giving good samples but Chariots are higher in screenings. Yields are down at least 0.5t/ha."

About 40% of spring barley was harvested in the Borders by the start of the week, says Mike Dagg of merchant McCreath, Simpson, and Prentice. Optic quality is particularly pleasing. "We have taken in a lot of grain at less than 1.6% nitrogen and with low screenings. Chariot has been thinner than Optic and we expect higher nitrogen and screenings from later crops."

Quality may be god but yields are extremely disappointing, says Berwickshire farmer Barclay Forrest. "The general story is spring barley struggling to do 2t/acre, with many reports of 35cwt."

Barometer farmer Eric Haggart in Perthshire has combined one field of Maresi spring barley at 20% moisture, but the rest was a week away on Monday.

"Yield was disappointing at 2.25t/acre, about half a tonne less than we expected." He is now doing contract work and reports neighbours still trying to take winter barley.

At home he has a field of winter rape safely drilled and rolled but has decided to set-aside an extra field which would normally have gone to winter barley. "That is going to be the pattern throughout Scotland. The returns from winter barley make it difficult to justify the money lying out for almost a full year."


RAIN continues to wreak havoc with the harvest; most finished winter barley last week, but the weather was preventing growers from starting ripe wheats, or finishing overdue oilseed rape, earlier this week.

In Co Down, Charles Davidson would have started Soissons wheat on Tuesday, but yet again rain stopped play. "It is the latest harvest for years, everyones harvest is going to run into September. There is no wheat cut here at all."

Winter barleys Regina and Pastoral did 6.2-7.4t/ha (2.5-3t/acre), 1.2t/ha (0.5t/acre) down on last year. Spring barley is about a week from being ready, he says.

Further west, in Co Londonderry John Gilliland has resorted to Round-up (glyphosate) to make sure wheat will combine, if and when the weather lets up. "I have a strong feeling the strobs are holding the straw greener. But anyone who hasnt used them has black and shrivelled crops now."

Winter barley finished last week was variable, at 3.7-7.7t/ha (1.5-3.1t/acre), due to take-all, he believes. &#42

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