North hopes kind weather fulfills quality prospects

3 September 1999

North hopes kind weather fulfills quality prospects

Wheat is finished in the south: Finished for harvest, and in

terms of quality, say growers and traders alike. Now attention

swings to beans, linseed, and salvaging the odd crop of

peas. Further north quality prospects are more promising, if

the weather holds. Our independently researched reports

continue to keep you informed of harvest as it happens

Wheat is finished in the south: Finished for harvest, and in

terms of quality, say growers and traders alike. Now attention

swings to beans, linseed, and salvaging the odd crop of

peas. Further north quality prospects are more promising, if

the weather holds. Our independently researched reports

continue to keep you informed of harvest as it happens


WHEAT, beans and linseed should be finished by the weekend, say growers.

Rain has taken the shine off quality, but few crops have failed to meet the 72kg/hl feed standard, say traders.

"Give it three days and there will be nothing left to combine," said Camgrains Philip Darke earlier this week. "There has been a devastating drop in Hagbergs. Consort at 140 is the highest we have seen for a fortnight." Biscuit wheat could be in short supply with many Hagbergs under 100, but only 20-25% of milling wheat was caught by the rain, he estimates.

farmers weekly barometer farmer Robert Salmon had only 6ha (15 acres) of wheat to finish on Tuesday, before moving into linseed. "Claire has done well, averaging over 10.5t/ha across two fields."

Harvest was finished last Saturday at Fred Hartley Estates, near Downham Market. "We are looking for room for the wheats," says foreman, Malcolm Markham. Equinox and Savannah hit 10t/ha (4t/acre) but "good ole Brigadier" trailed in at 8.6t/ha (3.5t/acre) from the all first-wheat crops on fen silt.

Beans are yielding well for most. At Long Melford, Suffolk, farm manager, Nick Huxtable, reports Target winter beans averaging 4.5t/ha (1.8t/acre). "We are very pleased." But Linseed at 2.1t/ha (17cwt/acre) was a little disappointing. Rialto and Abbot wheat yields at 11t/ha (4.5t/acre) were good, but quality is doubtful. "All our quality wheats were affected by the weather."

In Essex, Carl Juhl called in a neighbour to cut Victor spring beans while he finished wheat at Littlebury Farms, Saffron Walden. "They have done pretty well, over 2t/acre, and look very good," he says. Wheat yields are 1.2t/ha (0.5t/acre) up across the board and linseed did 2.2t/ha (18cwt/acre), he estimates.

But beans look like being the disappointment for Dan Simms at Kettlewells Farm, St Albans, Herts. "They are disastrous. Everything looked good to mid-season, then they just died," he says. Fusarium foot-rot is the suspected cause. Wheats have been better than average, with many crops hitting 10t/ha (4t/acre).


A 10-day dry spell and a good forecast for this week should see harvest end as easily as it started.

But the extended wet period in between has severely eroded quality. Anything harvested over the past two to three weeks, with the exception of spring wheat, is destined for feed.

"The quality of grain samples tends to improve towards the east – it is worst in Wiltshire and best in Kent," says Michael Williams of SCATS Grain. "But, overall, the proportion of wheat fit for milling is appreciably down on last year, with Hagberg now as low as 60-70 and specific weights around 74kg/hl, although yields are still holding up well.

"But the quality of the little spring wheat we have seen, mostly Chablis, is very good."

Of more concern to barometer grower John Chalcraft in Hants is seed wheat quality. Cutting finished on Monday, yield ranging from 7.5t/ha (3t/acre) for Hereward to 8.5t/ha (3.45t/acre) for Equinox. "The wheat was not badly sprouted, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that it is up to standard." Yields have not topped last years 11t/ha (4.45t/acre) Equinox first wheat.

Wiltshire grower/contractor Steven Benson at Bourton, Swindon, anticipates his investment in a gravity sorting table will pay handsomely, as will separating pre- and post-rain wheats in store. He expects to clear 40ha (99 acres) of Consort plus Striker winter beans and Barbara linseed, by Monday (Sept 6).

Over 170mm (7in) of rain in August meant Colin Rayner took 22 days to combine 405ha (1000 acres) of wheat around Slough, Berks, instead of the expected three days. He still had about 202ha (500 acres) of Antares linseed to clear at the start of this week, although some is so badly laid it is unsalvageable, he says. The seasons only consolation is wheat yields 20% above his farm average.


DRY Bank Holiday weekend weather saw the back of the harvest broken.

Although yields have remained high, post-rain quality has plummeted.

"Clearly wheat harvested in the last 10 days has very little quality," says Andy Bury of grain merchant Cargill. "In most cases Hagberg is barely there, specific weight has fallen from 76-77kg/hl pre-rain to low 70s and, although unaffected by rain, proteins are also lower than we would like.

"Yields in the region have, however, remained very pleasing considering the difficult August weather."

Barometer farmer Tony Wright had just 10ha (25 acres) of linseed left by Tuesday morning. "Yields have been very good for all combinable crops, wheat has ranged from 8.5t/ha for second wheats to 11t/ha for first. But quality on later cut crops has suffered."

Quality has also deteriorated further south in Oxon. "We have not been able to do a weekday of combining in three weeks and quality is rubbish, but quantity is OK," echoes grower Phillip Chamberlain. Pre-rain Malacca achieved full spec, but Hereward cut later lost Hagberg. "Yields are at the top end of expectations."

"The weather has spoilt what looked to be a good harvest," adds Richard Harris at Moulton, Northants. "Yields have been pretty good so far, but we are concerned about quality. Equinox normally achieving 76-78kg/hl is averaging 70kg/hl and the Malacca does not look very promising either."

Elsewhere light rain spared quality. "Last weeks 10mm one evening was the first heavy rain we have had," says Neal Wilson, arable manager at &#42 R Bourn & Sons, Wragby, Lincs. "All our Hereward made 13% protein and averaged 230 Hagberg, with no bushel problems, while the spring barleys are coming off at 2.5t/acre, with 1.5% nitrogen, low screenings and bushels in the low 70s." First wheat yields have been up by over 1t/ha (0.4t/acre) to 10t/ha (4t/acre).

At Newark, Notts, Robert Sutton has almost finished harvest. "We have been very, very fortunate this season, we missed the heavy rain and our average yields have equalled the highest ever." Most first wheats made 12.3t/ha (5t/acre), while Equinox on strong land excelled at 14.2t/ha 5.75t/acre.


MANY growers have finished winter wheat and spring barley, but sample quality is very variable.

farmers weekly barometer farmer Andrew Cooke has finished winter wheat at North Farm, Shrewsbury, but disappointing specific weights and significant chitting in the ear make milling premiums unlikely.

"A token run through the beans suggests that yield and sample quality could be first class. We will cut slowly in the hope that the moisture level falls from 18 to 15%. Sprinter spring oilseed rape is ready and we will make a start when it is at 9% moisture."

Julian Radcliffe, who farms with father, Andrew, at Penmark, in the Vale of Glamorgan, says harvest has gone reasonably well, although second wheats have disappointed.

"First wheats averaged close to 9.6t/ha and even a field of Chaucer we threatened to plough-in recovered to yield 8.4t/ha. Some excellent Soissons with a Hagberg of 316, specific weight of 79kg/hl and 10.7% protein on the old scale has been sold for milling. And we have high hopes for some good looking Rialto."

He has also combined 3.6t/ha (1.5t/acre) of beans for a well satisfied neighbour. The same cannot be said of Simon Beckett, Heath Farm, Wythall, Birmingham, who described his 2.4t/ha (1t/acre) yield of Clipper beans as a disaster. But working flat out whenever conditions allowed let him get 75% of his 222ha (550 acres) of winter wheat under cover by the start of the week.

Near Hereford, all of Garnons Farm Partnerships winter wheat was expected to be in the barn by Thursday, leaving three days of work on beans. Manager, Peter Bawn, is delighted with the exceptional 11t/ha (4.5t/ha) yield of Maverick at 15.6% moisture, and the 8.4t/ha (4t/acre) taken from other varieties like Consort. "Hagbergs are still around 270 and proteins in the high 11s, and we have sold some grain with a biscuit premium."

Spotlight on Scottish barometer

Spring barley has topped the bill at Balgone Farms so far, at 8.6t/ha (3.5t/acre). "We are very pleased. 3t/acre is average here, and 3.25t/acre is as good as we have ever done. It has been a cracking season for spring barley." Optic, which did well in a poor year last season, and strobilurin use at early awn emergence are behind the advance, he believes. "We grew Chariot and Derkado before. The ramularia in Chariot trials in the Borders was horrific. Optic has been completely free of it." He is less sure of the benefit from plant stimulant Maxicrop (Arable, May 28). Swaths were taken through treated and untreated strips and measured on the combines auger-mounted yield monitor. "The disease pressure looked less when it was growing, but I could not see any difference in yield," he says. Nitrogen is all below 1.4%, and only a third of the crop needed drying. But the price has yet to be fixed, he adds. "It is on the move into our merchants store at the moment."

Winter oilseed rape, all Hanson, yielded 3.8t/ha (31cwt/acre), a little below the farm average. Seed is home-saved and was being drilled earlier this week into a conventional plough and power-harrowed seed-bed. That policy is up for review, as is the variety. "We are growing a bag of Lipton with a view to home-saving that next year." A bag of Hanson will be sown too, keeping options open. With oilseed rape at £100/t, home-saved seed costs 10p/kg to £6.50/kg for bought-in seed. At 4.5kg/ha that saves £29/ha (£12/acre), he says. Drilling across the prevailing west wind helps crops lodge across the rows, easing combining by ensuring an even swath.

Wheat was started last week, with early-September drilled Riband as a first wheat hitting 10t/ha. "But some second wheat we tried has been disappointing. We will be lucky if it is over 3t/acre," he adds. But few wheat crops are really fit. Peas will be taken on the next good combining day. A start last weekend suggested yields touching 5t/ha (2t/acre).

Grain tipping tip

Grain marketing manager Andy Bury of Cargill warns farmers to be alert to discoloured grain tips, caused by alternaria and fusarium. "Moulds can result in black, pink, red or brown grain tips, which in turn can lead to rejected loads. End users are less tolerant of pink or red tipped grain so farmers should check with their merchants before loading vehicles."


AFTER heavy rain in the first half of last week, few were brave enough to wait for grain to dry in the field and driers have worked round the clock.

In Somerset, Tony Higgins recorded 30mm (1.23in) in half an hour on Aug 25.

Barometer growers Matthew and Paul Dale cut 10ha (25 acres) of Hunter wheat on Friday at up to 25% moisture but then spent a day and a half repairing their combine.

Only an hour after re-starting they were hit by 40 minutes of torrential rain. So they braved four miles of bank holiday traffic to reach drier land and cut 12ha (30 acres) of Abbot at 17% moisture. Yield was "nearly 4t/acre".

All four co-ops in the region have a backlog of drying.

At Cannington, Somerset, Ted Bird says wheat yields are no longer uniformly good. "A few growers have reported 2.5t where they usually expect 3.5t, and a lot is starting to grow out quite badly. But it is still good quality feed."

Wessex Grain on the Somerset/Dorset border reports yields up to 11.3t/ha (4.5t/acre) but sprouting common and all malting barley samples failing germination tests.

At Devon Grain moistures were down to 17% by Monday. "Wheat yields on balance are pretty good, considering a lot was drilled very late," said Duncan Lyons.

Cornish contractor Howard Emmett has concentrated on wheats, much at 18% moisture or higher. "A fine week should see the wheats finished down here." Peas were still too wet, being flat.

Somerset contractor Tony Higgins had the two days he needed to finish wheats which on Monday were under 15% moisture. By Monday night most wheats in his area had been cut and he had started spring beans.


UNSETTLED weather last week hampered spring barley and winter wheat cutting.

But uncut crops were in good condition with minimal lodging earlier this week.

"Growers expected to have made more progress over the last week, but those who have made a start on winter wheat have reported Consort yielding up to 7.5t/ha," says a spokesman for the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland. "Grains filled well after the good weather in July."

The 8ha (20 acres) of peas at barometer grower Graham Fureys farm at Killyleagh, Co Down were harvested last week, yielding 2.4-3.7t/ha (1-1.5t/acre). Some were not as dry as expected – about 22% – but Espace averaged about 15%.

"We just do not seem to get those glorious fortnights like we used to," says Mr Furey. "We managed a couple of days on spring barley this week, although some late-sown crops following cereals have been disappointing at 1.5t/acre. The overall average has been 2t and it has been a decent sample throughout." Winter wheat was just starting earlier this week.

Kane Bros of Ballyhenry Farm, Co Londonderry, says winter barley has done well, yields peaking at 9.9t/ha (4t/acre). First wheat cuttings were coming in at about 25% moisture, says Michael Kane.


RAIN last Wednesday halted harvest, putting quality at risk.

But fine weather over the Bank Holiday weekend and a good mid-week forecast meant most wheat was expected to be finished by this weekend.

Crops in Humberside and further north were among the last to show sprouting, notes Glencore Grain trader Robert Kerr.

"But even standing grain will now loose quality day by day if we get more rain. Specific weights started high, the question now is will it drop below 72 kg/hl?" he asks.

Strobilurin benefits are widely acclaimed. "They really kicked in this year, any one who has not used them has got a lot less – 1 to 2 t/acre," says Stuart Saunt of seed merchant Johnson and Saunt, Burstwick, Hull.

Many first wheats yielded about 12.4t/ha (5t/acre), but last weeks rain brought Hagberg down and started knocking specific weights to 69-71 kg/hl, he adds. So far sprouting is just 1-2%.

With 81ha (200 acres) of wheat left to harvest, barometer farmer Anthony Hornshaw of Croft, Darlington, is quietly confident the outcome will match the 11.1t/ha (4.5t/acre) of first biscuit wheats already harvested.

Riband and Consort at 17.5-18% moisture at Hetton Estates, Lowick, Northumberland, were not quite fit. "But we do not wait up here," says Peter Guy. "Our harvest started last Saturday with Riband coming off at about 8.8t/ha, good for our grade 3 land. Decanter spring barley yielded 6.3t/ha (2.5t/acre) at 70kg/hl and has been sold at a good price for distilling."

"Consort has stood difficult conditions as well as any," says Stuart Baldwin from Bryn, Wigan. Overall wheat has averaged 8.7t/ha (3.5t/acre), dragged down by waterlogged heavy land crops.


HEAVY rain last Wednesday and showers over the weekend interrupted combining, but dry weather between has allowed good progress.

But a good harvest is being tempered by an oversupply of grain.

"On the whole, spring barley yields are tremendous, with a lot of high bushel weights," says David Laming of Central Farmers, Methil, Fife. "The quality is quite good, but there is too much around, mainly because farmers were unable to sow their winter wheat."

At Balgone Farm in East Lothian barometer farmer James Grant Suttie has started winter wheat (see panel), his best field of Riband doing over 10t/ha (4.2 t/acre). But some early wheat off light ground has been sub-standard for no obvious reason, notes Mr Laming.

On heavier land some farmers had still not started winter wheat on Monday. Between Perth and Dundee Russell Taylor of G C Taylor (Farms) found moisture was still 24-25%, despite warm, sunny conditions. "It looks reasonable but it wont be ready for a few days yet," he says.

Entering September, there is still a long way to go, Mr Taylor continues. Spring rape has hardly been touched and just 10% of the spring barley was in, yet most neighbours had nearly finished by Monday.

At Balado Home Farm south of Perth, Kinross, George Lawrie has yet to start late-sown spring barley. But he is pleased with winter barley, particularly new variety Angela. "Dried and dressed, weve sent 61.5 t to the seed merchant off 22 acres." &#42

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