Near finished in south, but north still very catchy
Harvest is almost done in the
south, with results generally
better than many growers
anticipated. But further north
combining is an increasingly
catchy affair as wet weather
continues to frustrate
progress. farmers weeklys
arable team reports
THE extreme variability of this years harvest continues to the end, with spring oilseed rape yields no exception.
On one farm, one of the new Hyola hybrids even outyielded Apex winter rape, reports Richard Elsdon of United Oilseeds. "It did 27cwt/acre against the Apexs 25. But on another farm in Hampshire I have heard of spring rape doing only 14-15cwt/acre."
He believes disappointing results may be due to unusually overlush crops which lodged. Early signs are that spring linseed is yielding well, he adds.
"I have never known such a variable harvest," says Stewart Parrington of Newbury-based Banks Southern. Many early sown spring rape crops, often grown with sewage sludge, lodged in the wet weather, he notes.
First wheats generally performed well, says Mr Parrington. "But second crops really suffered. Some were down to 30cwt/acre."
Poor pollination is to blame for some near disastrous winter bean yields and lower than hoped-for spring pea output, he adds. "We have seen some reasonable samples of spring barley, but yields have only been average."
DAMP weather has meant the odd pieces of wheat and spring barley still left to cut a week or more ago are still uncombined.
Peas have disappointed with many crops only yielding 2.5t/ha (1t/acre), though harvesting was easy, according to ADASs Bill Butler based in Devon.
Winter beans have done better at 3.7t/ha (1.5t/acre) he says, though below promise, but he fears spring beans could be disappointing where disease struck at flowering.
Both Wessex Grain and Cannington Grain co-ops report bean yields well down. Throughout the region there is much linseed, flax, spring oilseed rape and linola to cut. Mike Hambly of Cornwall Farmers says early reports on spring rapes indicate 2.2-2.5t/ha (0.9-1t/acre), with linseed yielding 1.2-1.5t/ha (0.5-0.6t/acre).
ONLY remnants remain to be combined in the east with beans the main target.
At best it is an average year for winter and spring beans," says the PGROs Geoffrey Gent. Winter varieties have done better than expected, given earlier disease and severe lodging, but have struggled to reach 4t/ha (1.6t/acre). "Spring crops are better as they have benefited from early summers heavy rain."
Dalgetys Julie Goult reckons half the winter crop was combined by last weekend with good progress made on spring varieties.
Early signs suggest spring types are outyielding winter ones though the latter are averaging 3.5t/ha (1.4t/acre) against 3t /ha (1.2t/acre) expected earlier, she says. "Crops have come off dry and relatively clean. Spring beans for human consumption have nice skins and less bruchid damage than normal."
In Essex Nicholas Reed finished Maris Bead spring beans but still had Punch winter crop to combine at the start of the week.
"The Bead yielded 1.25-1.5t/acre. In a good year we expect 2t," says Mr Reed of Blue Gate Hall Farm, Great Bardfield. "Our winter beans are mostly standing but twisted and nothing to get excited about. Pod set bottom and top looks reasonable but there is not much in the middle."
WHEAT and spring barley have pleased most, with good yields, and quality. Showers are causing concern for crops left in the field.
"Wheats are virtually done and dusted," says Steve Wetherbee of Dalgety Hereford. "People are generally pleasantly surprised, with many crops doing 4t/acre. Quality is good, with bushel weights in the mid 70s, and most biscuit wheats making the grade."
But protein remains a problem on milling wheats, with many missing out on premiums. Rialto has struggled on Hagberg, he notes.
Further north, David Roberts at G O Davies, near Shrewsbury reckons just 10% of wheat is uncut. Yields are good with strobilurin fungicides, where used, pushing output up by 1.2t/ha (0.5t/acre), he says. "If prices were higher, everybody would be happy."
WITH wheat harvest 90% done in the Leics area, yields are probably 10% up on last year, estimates Ian Root of Mid-England Agriculture.
"On the whole quality too is good, but there is growing concern that anything left is deteriorating."
Further north Andrew Sedgewick of Retford-based G Williams Grain reckons 80-85% of wheats are done, though there are notably a few large areas still waiting, he reports. "My impression is that first wheats are outyielding seconds by up to 1t/acre. That is 0.5t/acre more than normal." Later sown crops clearly outstrip early drillings, he notes. Most varieties, bar Riband, are easily meeting 75kg/hl.
The wet season has clearly favoured light land in Notts, adds Mr Sedgewick. Tim Banks of Warren Farm, Haughton was pleased. His 10.1t/ha (4.1t/acre) of Rialto was a farm record.
RAIN and dull weather continue to frustrate harvest. Combines are being kept out of crops and many fields are not yet ripe.
"Harvest is a desperate struggle," says Neil Armstrong of Thornton Main, Berwick. "The first wheat is barely fit. We have cut only 25 acres in the past seven days and still have 460 acres to go."
7.4t/ha (3t/acre) of Abbot at 25% moisture needed careful drying. Continued rain on the remaining Riband is a concern. "Bushel weight will deteriorate five points in seven days like it did last year."
Further south, second crop Riband and Reaper are about 1.2t/ha (0.5t/acre) down on expectations on the Bruntons Farm at Burnaby Grange, Guisborough. "We need two rain-free drying days before we can restart," says Andrew Brunton.
"The crop, kept green with Amistar, is not spoiling yet. But the forecast does not give the five harvesting days we need. We may have to cut at 25% and dry down, but that is the last thing we want at current prices."
"It is a bachelors harvest – get a bit when you can," says Driffield-based Tony Pexton, NFU deputy president. Second wheats, like winter barley and rape, yielded less than budget. "We are harvesting only 40-60 acres of our first wheats a week and have 170 acres to go. But yields and quality are much better than in the barley."
Secondary tillering and erratic weather have bedevilled cutting of 121ha (300 acres) of wheat at Church Farm, Shipton by Bellinger in the Vale of York where Clive Blacker has good and bad news of strobilurin treated crops. Yields are 2.5t/ha (1t/acre) more than from standard treatments, but the straw takes at least five days longer to be fit for baling.
"We shall cut at 25% moisture because specific weights are beginning to go back," says Mr Blacker.
LITTLE or no progress has been made in the past week as rain and fog covered most of the country.
"Crops are ready, but they are just too wet to harvest," says barometer grower Eric Haggart, Baillielands, Perthshire. "There has been no sun or wind and things are at a standstill with increasing worries as the days get shorter. We have cut about 10 acres of spring barley in the past week."
In Aberdeenshire, where heavy rain fell most of last week, David Jack says harvest has been almost non existent. "We have had rain followed by sea fogs which have not cleared until well into the afternoon. One or two neighbours have cut a little but it has been at high moisture. There is still a lot of spring barley to do. Most crops are standing, but there is a real danger of sprouting."
In the Borders, spring barley is almost finished. But Berwickshire-based Barclay Forrest says little grain was cut in the past week. "We have been covered in fog almost every day and those who tried wheats had them at 26% moisture or higher." Mr Forrest is convinced the weather, not strobilurin fungicides, is causing the delays.
"I have spoken to a lot of people on the subject and those who have not used the new chemicals are just as late as those who have."
The south-west, not a key grain area, has fared better than most. Combines worked during the weekend in Morayshire but further north, in Ross-shire, fog is the problem for grower Alan Whiteford and his neighbours.
"We have done next to nothing in the past week. It is a pretty sad tale all round with those who do cut reporting very high moistures."
WHEAT is ready to cut across the province, but bad weather continues to hamper progress. Yields so far are promising.
An about-turn in conditions in Co Londonderry last week saw barometer grower Michael Kane cutting nearly 100ha (247 acres) of wheat. Many growers in the southern counties of Armagh and Down were at a standstill.
"We are almost through wheat, and some in the region are finished. Yields are up and down, but overall we are happy," he says. First wheats are about average for the farm, at 10t/ha (4t/acre), but third wheats hit by take-all and BYDV are running below 7.4t/ha (3t/acre). Quality from the main varieties Reaper, Ritmo and Crofter is reasonable at 72-76kg/hl specific weight.
Astina peas, cut over the bank-holiday weekend, disappointed at under 3.7t/ha (30cwt/acre) and will be dropped next year. "We were hoping for 2t/acre," says Mr Kane.
In Co Armagh, similar yields from the variety fell short of grower Henry Johnsons expectations. Espace was doing better at 4.9t/ha (2t/acre) when rain stopped play nearly a fortnight ago.
Earlier this week wheat was also ready, though none had been cut. "We need a full dry day before we can get going." Gerald winter oats yielding 5.9t/ha (2.4t/acre) cleaned and dried are slightly down on the farm average, but quality at 58-59kg/hl bushel weight is superb, he adds. *