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25 September 1998

Final fling for norths harvest as weather lifts?

Better weather earlier this

week saw many northern

crops at last fall to the

combine. Some yields are

better than expected. But

most growers are just glad

to get fields cleared. FWs

arable team reports


THE Indian summer has belatedly come to the rescue, with most Yorkshire wheats at last combined.

Even in Northumberland there was only about 15% left to cut with some farms already finished mid-week.

Main complaint is Hagbergs suffering in the deluge before the drier weather. Specific weights, bar in the Coastal Grain area, are better than last year. But protein levels are lower. "A lot of milling wheats are below 10% protein," reports Jonathan Cockill of N Yorks merchant Argrain.

Ian Craigs, chairman of the 37-member North East Grain co-op, has completed winter wheat at Tritlington Hall, Morpeth. "Quality is slightly better than last year, but yields are pretty moderate." Abbot gathered before the deluge sold for a premium of £20/t over feed, but low Hagberg rain-hit Hereward and Rialto are being rejected.

Much of the harvest relief is tempered by low prices, he adds. "Many growers round here are on mixed farms and they are very depressed."

Darlington-based Michael Manners finished wheats about a fortnight ago. "We cut a lot at 21% moisture and I am pleased we did. Diesel is pretty cheap at the moment, and having our own drier it did not cost too much."

Snowball review

Winter oats for milling are crop of the year for northern barometer grower Keith Snowball who finished combining on Saturday. First wheats also did well. "But the winter barley was disappointing to abysmal." Gerald oats gave an estimated 7.4t/ha (3t/acre) with a specific weight of 51-53kg/hl. "Solva did about 0.5t/acre less but was 55kg/hl. I think we are still on a learning curve with fertiliser and growth regulators for the crop." Saving grace in barley was Reginas unexpectedly good specific weight. "It was all in the mid 60s and outyielded Fighter which was as low as 54kg/hl. "Overall, the wheats did well and I reckon we have touched 4t/acre on some of it. But there are just two categories." Take-all and, with hindsight, too early drilling trimmed at least 2.5t/acre (1t/ha) off second and third crops, he says.

Hyola 401 spring rape was 18% moisture when gales struck. "It did 1t/acre and was better than the Sprinter, but I reckon we lost at least 2cwt/acre. One of our neighbours got 30cwt/acre." Previous best was 3.1t/ha. (25cwt/acre) from Sponsor.


SUMMER finally arrived earlier this week, but too late for some harvest areas.

In Easter Ross and along the Moray coast all the grain is in store.

A late bonus for David Houghton, Meddat, Invergordon, was Hyola 38 spring oilseed rape. "It yielded close on 30cwt/acre and I am delighted."

Mr Houghtons harvest has been very mixed. "I do not want to talk about the winter barley. It was a disaster and outyielded by the spring sown crops. We had half our 420 acres sown in mid February and those were the ones that did best with lower nitrogen and screenings and 2.25t/acre.

"Optic has been our best variety but the early Chariot also did quite well. Winter wheat was all flat but had not sprouted and yielded a surprising 3.5-3.7t/acre."

Aberdeenshire farmers are looking to the west with some envy. They had a lot of grain still to cut on Tuesday. But with a full week of good weather forecast they hoped to make big strides.

David Jack, Rothienorman, has moved to potatoes as he waits for the last fields of wheat to ripen. "The good weather cheers everyone, but it is difficult to forget some of the disasters like Chariot barley with 40% screenings not fit for malting and 35cwt/acre yield. I wont be growing it again."

Better weather is allowing straw baling right up behind the combine. Most agree it will be scarce and expensive this winter.

Barometer grower Eric Haggart has all his own wheat cut at Bailielands and the ground ready for sowing wheat and barley. "The later fields of Riband yielded about 2.5t/acre and the Madrigal did rather better."

Further south, Doug Niven, Duns, has harvested 1620ha (4000 acres) of grain on his own farm and others he manages in the Borders. "It has been a long, slow process and we badly needed this weather a month ago. Winter barley was a total disaster and outyielded by 0.5t/acre by spring barleys. Wheats have been surprisingly good, better than we had anticipated both in yield and quality. They have been running at up to 3.5t and bushel weights well into the 70s."

Merchant Adrian Fisher of Glencore Grain reports mixed wheat results. "People are concentrating on the standing crops and there the bushel weights are fine averaging 72kg. There has been some excellent Encore at 76 and 77kg. But the laid crops are black with fusarium and down to 62kg."


FINE weather means most growers will finish harvest this weekend.

After earlier fears of complete crop losses, average to good yields are a relief.

"The wheats are actually yielding very well," says Co Down grower John Best. Earlier this week he was half-way through his wheat, which was coming in at 18-26% moisture. "We reckon it will do 3.5t/acre when dried, which is very acceptable. Normally we average 3.25t/acre." Consort was fairing better than Reaper, which had lodged and was starting to sprout, even in standing crops.

In Co Armagh, seed grower Tim McClelland has finished Riviera spring barley, and is quite happy with 4.7t/ha (1.9t/acre). "That is a high average for us. The bushel weight is good, and it is a nice golden sample." He believes keeping nitrogen rates down to 112kg/ha (90 units/acre) for spring barley and 150kg/ha (120 units/acre) for wheat has paid off, with most of his crops standing.

Local contractor Ivan Megaw had a quarter of the harvest still to gather last Tuesday, but hoped to finish this weekend. "We have not had to deal with as much lodging as last year, despite the weather," he says. &#42

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18 September 1998

Almost done – now north awaits repercussions

Apart from a few niggling

patches harvest is complete

in the south. Further north

grim weather persists, keeping

growers from potentially good

crops. Severe repercussions

are on the cards. farmers weekly journalists report


WHEAT harvesting was almost completely washed out last week.

Although combines started rolling again early this week delays are now hitting wheat quality hard.

"People are getting pretty depressed," says Terence Pardoe of Coastal Grain Marketing at Belford, Northumberland. "Only 40-50% of the wheat has been cut in the area and there are puddles or lakes in fields where we do not usually see water."

But new chemistry fungicides have kept crops growing for longer and first wheat quality has been quite good so far, he says. Second wheats are much more variable.

After a drizzly week and 3.8m (1.5in) of rain over Thursday, Friday and Saturday fields on Hetton Estate, Lowick, Northumberland, are waterlogged. "It is terrible, absolutely terrible; laid crops in fertiliser overlaps are growing in the ear," says manager Peter Guy.

"With only 14ha of wheat cut out of 291ha we need 10 days of fine weather. But I must say the strobilurins do seem to have kept the standing crop looking better than might have been expected, so far. But cutting at 25% will mean drying costs."

In N Yorks barometer farmer Keith Snowball is working day and night when possible to harvest his own wheat and contract crops. This week, for the first time, the three combines worked Monday and started Tuesday too. "It is no mean task keeping 17 farmers happy, and then we start drilling," he says.

"The sun is shining at the moment, that is a novelty in the north this year," says Anthony Hornshaw of Croft Farms, near Darlington. With his combine rolling on Monday he needed only two fine days to complete the wheat harvest.

So far first wheats have yielded 9.3-9.9t/ha (3.75-4t/acre) and the seconds about 7.4t/ha (3t/acre). But a lot had to be cut at over 20% and dried. "We have had a reasonable wheat harvest considering the summer."


BAROMETER farmer Eric Haggart of Bailielands, Perthshire, has found a bright spot in this years dismal harvest. His first field of Riband wheat yielded 9.25t/ha (3.75t/acre) dried.

"We have been catching the harvest between heavy showers and longer periods of rain. Moisture levels have been 21-28%, but the yield has been surprisingly high. It is the best crop of wheat I have grown for a very long time. I think the credit has to go to the strobilurins."

He sold 100t at a spot market price of £73/t last Friday.

But in Aberdeenshire, David Jack is not even contemplating wheat. He cut a little spring barley last weekend, but at 26% moisture is was turned down for malting by his co-op, Aberdeen Grain. Its managing director, Glyn Whitehead, reports that at the end of last week he had received only 500t of spring barley out of an expected 15,000t.

"The whole picture is very depressing at the moment and there are worried faces all around. My wheat and my Delibes barley are still 10 days away and there is no sign of harvest weather," says Mr Jack.

The Borders is faring no better. Berwick merchant David McCreath of McCreath, Simpson and Prentice, says the area is heading for a repeat of the 1985 disaster.

"It is terrible, a lot of crops are now sprouting and grain is coming in at 26% moisture. Drying costs are very high and fields are so wet that combines cannot operate."

That view is endorsed by Barclay Forrest who had two fields of wheat ready but sitting in water on Monday morning after another weekend of heavy rain.

In Moray and Inverness some decent weather at the end of last week means the spring barley harvest is drawing to a close, says Alan Whiteford. "It is the worst harvest since 1985 for yield and quality. The maltsters are recognising that and being slightly more tolerant about nitrogen and screening levels.

"A 2t/acre yield is considered good this year. Chariot has been the poorest performer in this area. There will be a shortage of top quality grain and some decent premiums for it. I cannot get finished soon enough. This is a quite forgettable harvest and I certainly dont look forward to doing the cash flows for next year," he adds.


DISASTER, depressed, dire, dreadful; that is how harvest is being described.

It has barely moved in the last fortnight, leaving less than half the wheat and little more of the spring barley cut. Promising early yields are disappearing with every downpour.

"This area will need disaster aid soon, and I am not exaggerating," says Charles Davidson of merchant North Down Grain. He estimates a fifth of wheat and spring barley is cut in County Down, and bar a few acres snatched at 25-30% moisture on Monday, nobody has moved for over a week. Crops are starting to sprout, bushel weights falling and spring barley ears are bent to the ground.

"Things are dire, really quite serious," echoes DANIs Alex McGarel. "In the south growers are normally drilling by now, but much of the land is not even cleared."

Kane review

Barometer grower Michael Kane, of Co Londonderry, had all but finished a fortnight ago. Only a niggling 6ha (15 acres) of Brigadier five miles from the farm was still to cut earlier this week. Better than expected wheat yields are thanks to Amistar (azoxystrobin) at flag and ear spray, he reckons. "A small area we missed at ear-spray was 1-1.5t/acre down." Barleys Regina and Jewel suffered from the lack of sunshine. At 6.9t/ha (2.8t/acre) they were short of the farm average and bushel weights poor at 62-63kg/hl. Winter OSR was a little disappointing at 3.7t/ha (30cwt/acre). "But I accept last years 2t/acre was exceptional." Peas, grown for the first time since 1985, looked great in June. Then foliar disease and wet weather robbed yield potential, finishing up at just 3.1t/ha (25cwt/acre). They may still be given a second chance next year.

More sun required… Although fit this flax at Dundridge Manor Farm, St Leonards, Tring, Herts, soon fouled contractor Philip Matthews (left) combine on Monday. With just 61ha of his contracted 2225ha left to cut Mr Matthews is on the home run at last. Also pictured are colleagues Charlie Harriman (right) and Mark Clifford.

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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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22 August 1997


ITS a good year for oilseed rape; barometer grower Charles Davidson near Newtownards has nearly finished with yields averaging 3.72t/ha (30cwt/acre).

That will compensate for poor winter barley results, he says. "Most of it is Synergy, which has done the best, but we have also had a bit of Apex."

Charles Logan of Clarendon Agricare reports lower than usual winter barley yields of 6.2-6.8t/ha (2.5-2.75t/acre). A warm, sunny week has seen winter wheat and spring barley ripen quickly. &#42

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1 August 1997


COMBINES which had just started harvest laid idle across the province in the latter half of last week as rain set in.

"It hasnt stopped raining," says barometer grower Charles Davidson. "Barley heads are starting to go down through the crop. Its a very gloomy picture, and there are a lot of quality fears."

Richard Lyness cut 4.45ha (11 acres) of Pastoral before the weather broke. The crop came off at about 17% moisture and yielded 6.9t/ha (2.8t/acre) over a weighbridge.

"Thats not as good as last year, when we did over 3t/acre. Other people have found lower yields too. But quality was excellent and we baled 1700 small bales of good straw."n

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4 July 1997


HIGH winds and heavy rain have taken their toll on winter barley crops, reports North Down Grain agronomist Trevor Neville.*

"We had about 5in of rain in May, 30% up on average. So far in June we have had 4in, double the usual. Temperatures stayed high, encouraging soft, lush growth. That left plants a bit weak."

Even full rate growth regulator programmes have failed to keep many crops standing. "Across the region, about 80% of crops are 60% lodged, some severely."

On barometer grower Charles Davidsons Home Lea Farm at Ballywalter, a half rate Terpal at third node detectable (GS33), followed by half rate Cerone (2-chloroethylphosphonic acid) was applied to the barleys, most of which are six-row varieties.

"Some crops are badly tossed, but lodging is not as bad as elsewhere," says Mr Neville. "The barley has good heads. If we get some good weather soon crops should not come to too much harm."

At least they are clean, he points out. Rhynchosporium was controlled with Radar (propiconazole) or Punch C (carbendazim + flusilazole) at flag leaf before lodging occurred. Corbel (fenpropimorph) or Patrol (fenpropidin) was added to control mildew.

Wheats – Brigadier, Consort, Reaper and Soissons – have fared better. "They are all standing and look pretty good." A full rate Impact Excel (chlorothalonil + flutriafol) and half-rate Patrol at flag leaf to ear-emerged was applied to control mildew, noticeable in Brigadier, and to prevent septoria.

Rain has hindered mancozeb application at Home Lea Farm. Mr Neville is advising three-quarter rate tebuconazole (Folicur). "Contact sprays could easily be washed off."

*Charles Davidson is on holiday. &#42

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30 August 1996


WITH harvest at a standstill for more than a week in the province, concern is growing for blackening wheats and lodging oats.

"If the weather picks up this week, there shouldnt be a real problem. But if it doesnt, some people could be in trouble," says Charles Davidson of Newtown-ards-based North Down Grain. Barometer grower John Best reports little change since last week at Acton House Farm, Poyntzpass, Co Armagh, where 150ha (370 acres) of wheat and oats still await the combine. "The prospects are not very good," he says. "We have only done the winter barley and the rape."

Dithane (mancozeb), a standard ear wash spray on the farm, has once again paid off. "So far any ear disease isnt too bad. Where we missed a strip you can definitely see the difference."

Rain has even prevented other field work. "The ground is just too sticky to cultivate," says Mr Best.

"We havent been in the field for over a week," says Brian Hammond of Ballyalloly Farm, Comber. And with some crops of his still green, he is worried about grain quality, especially bushel weights. "Buyers are increasingly hard to please."

A full growth regulator programme and modified nitrogen programme sees his 57ha (140 acres) of Brigadier and Hussar wheat "100% standing", and most of his oats remain upright.

"Two months ago we thought we should have applied another 30 units/acre of N, but we didnt and Im glad. Id rather have 3t standing than 4t flat."

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25 August 1995


FROM one extreme to the other. Thats how barometer grower Brian Hammond sums up this years harvest compared with the last.

With the sun beating down and only a fifth of his 146ha (360 acres) of winter wheat to cut at the start of the week, he recalled 1994.

"This same week last year no tractors left the yard to work. It was even too wet to lift potatoes."

Despite the dry weather, which should help him to his earliest ever finish, wheat output is holding up well. Riband and Brigadier are giving "70cwt-4t/acre".

"That is better than I expected. The yield is up on our average, although that is a bit unfair because this year we have only got first wheats – after potatoes."

Specific weights at up to 80kg/hl are "the highest ever". "We often struggle to get 72kg/hl and have to blend to get everything away. We have still got some Hussar to do, so they could be even better."

Contrary to his earlier impression, spring barley in the area is yielding well – "2t/acre plus" – for most growers, many of whom should finish harvest next week.

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4 August 1995


HALF the 80ha (200 acres) of barley at Ballyalloly Farm, Newtownards, near Belfast, has been cut. Barometer grower Brian Hammond reckons the Fighter and Pastoral are yielding about 7.4t/ha (3t/acre) of 64-65kg/hl grain.

Oats are ripening fast, and wheats are about two weeks away. Rain in June coupled with plenty of sunshine since bodes well.

"It could be the best harvest since 1984 if this weather continues."

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28 July 1995


A TENTATIVE start on winter barleys has been made in the province, according to barometer grower Brian Hammond.

"We cut a bit of Pastoral on Saturday night but it was not 100% ready. It looks about 3t/acre or maybe a bit better, which is about average for us."

Fighter, sown three weeks later, will not be ready for about 10 days, he reports. "But just looking at it it seems slightly better."

Most of his neighbours have cut some barley with reactions "a bit mixed".

Showers and sunny intervals are filling out the wheats quite well, he adds.

There is "strong demand" for grain and straw, with barley fetching £124/t delivered to a Belfast compounder and straw making £50/t as small bales in the field. &#42

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21 July 1995


WINTER barley harvesting at Ballyalloly Farm, Comber, near Newtownards, and elsewhere throughout the province should get underway this weekend, says barometer farmer Brian Hammond.

He reckons his Pastoral is the cleanest barley crop ever. "We got everything spot on." But the long drought means yields "wont break records".

Heavy rain last weekend failed to lodge barleys.

Wheat inputs have been tricky, with Septoria establishing in Riband when rain delayed spraying for two weeks at flag leaf. Another field is showing red leaves – Mr Hammond is uncertain whether to blame Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus or severe drought stress.

Heavy thunderstorms have provided much needed moisture in time to help the wheats fill. Cutting is five weeks away, assuming good weather. "We are still fairly optimistic," says Mr Hammond. &#42

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19 May 1995


BITTERLY cold, dry weather, with very little disease, has made 1995 one of the easiest seasons for spray-making decisions, says Brian Hammond of Ballyalloly Farm, Newtownards, Northern Ireland.

Despite spring rainfall only about one-third of normal, "nothing is yet hurting", he reports. But it will not be long before crops need more moisture. Nitrogen fertiliser applied more than two weeks ago was still on the surface 10 days later.

"Everything has been so cold it has been in a time lapse," he says. Potatoes have been particularly slow to emerge in soils up to 10C (18F) below normal. However, cereals, which he says seem to develop more in tune with day length, have kept growing. Some late-sown fields in particular have made a "remarkable recovery".

All the cereals have had some fungicide – in the case of the wheats Sportak Delta (cyproconazole + prochloraz) about a month ago to control some septoria on the lower leaves.

Pastoral and Fighter winter barley had Opus Team (epoxiconazole + fenpropimorph) to tackle low levels of mildew.

This years events may encourage him to hold off subsequent sprays for "an extra week but no more". "And we probably wont save a lot on fungicides. There is still a long way to go. I reckon it is better to plan to spend as normally."

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28 April 1995


STEADY rain last week, totalling about 25mm (1in), was very welcome after strong, drying winds in the previous fortnight at Ballyalloly Farm, Newtownards, Northern Ireland.

It came just in time to soften soils for potato planting, reports Brian Hammond. "The ground was getting very hard. Its been quite cold but weve had no real frost."

After a very wet December to mid-March, cereals are "no more advanced than in other years". If anything later sown crops are a "bit backward".

Herbicide programmes seem to have been very effective, and so far there has been very little disease, prompting him to hold off fungicide spraying for as long as possible.

However, chronic manganese deficiency has had to be remedied, some fields having to be treated twice. "It seems to get worse every year," he comments.

All the cereals, bar some of the later wheats, have had their main Nitrochalk top dressings. Despite moves towards peace in Ireland, ammonium nitrate remains unavailable for security reasons, he notes.

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