4 September 1998

Holiday bonus for many


MOST wheat in Essex, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire was combined by Tuesday, but plenty remained in Norfolk.

"Wheat yields are 25% better than anticipated earlier in the season," says Richard Mason of Suffolk merchant George Burlingham & Sons of Ingham, Bury St Edmunds. "We are seeing some lovely quality with good specific weight, but Hagbergs are all over the place.

"We have seen some lovely samples of peas. Overall, the crop has yielded better than it looked, with the best bits giving 2t/acre. But where they went flat or were hit by disease, yields were a lot less."

Winter linseed is not delivering the goods, but spring crops look more promising, he adds. The first spring rape has been better than expected.

In south Suffolk, Clopton Hall Farms finished harvest at the weekend with spring beans at Hundon. "Our 120 acres of Scirocco did almost 40cwt/acre, which was better than winter beans," says Chris Hollingsworth. "The sample looks nice."

In Cambridgeshire, the West Wratting Park Estate has finished spring peas, but still has a lot of wheat to do. "First wheats have produced a lot of heavy grain, so are doing around 4t/acre, and lightland Reaper has done particularly well. Second wheats are doing 2.4-3.3t/acre."

At Glatton, near Peterborough, Paul Williams was disappointed with winter peas, Froidure yielding 3.7t/ha (30cwt/acre) compared with 4.9t (40cwt) previously.

Fine Bank Holiday weather saw good progress in many areas,

most farms in the south finishing cereals. First wheat good,

second wheat bad is still a common call. But breaks are far

more variable, mainly reflecting establishment and disease

control. farmers weeklys arable team reports on progress


Winter cereals were mostly cut by Tuesday, leaving just the last of the spring wheat and barleys and some breaks.

Wessex Grain co-op on the Dorset/Somerset border reports recently-cut wheats yielding better, although quality remains variable. Bean, spring rape and linseed combining has only just started, while peas are disappointing, many growers recording less than 2.5t/ha (under 1t/acre).

Mike Hambly of Cornwall Farmers co-op still has some cereal to come. Yield and quality remain very variable, including a superb sample of Chablis spring wheat at 82.8kg/hl, 321 Hagberg and 12.1% protein. But low yield has left several members short on contracted linseed tonnages.

Pettit review

Harvest was better than expected and cheaper, too, with no drying and minimal breakdowns, says eastern barometer, David Pettit, at West Hall Farm, near Diss, Norfolk. Cutting started slightly earlier than last year and ended on the same day – Aug 22. First wheat Equinox and Consort did close to 10t/ha (4t/acre), with export quality. "But second wheat was a very black spot, take-all dropping Hussar by 0.75t/acre to 2.8t/acre." Regina winter barley was 0.5t/ha (0.2t/acre) down on last year, but is already away for high N malting. Target winter beans were also down marginally at 4.3t/ha (1.75t/acre), while Apex rape yielded close to average and is already in the ground this autumn.

Hayllor review

Barometer grower Stewart Hayllor in South Devon finished harvest with Barbara linseed on Monday. "It was generally a good harvest from a practical point of view and finished in August, which was amazing considering the weather early on." He combined 240ha (600 acres) including contract work. Some crops have fared better than others. Last Saturday 6ha (15 acres) of standing linseed caught fire (cause unknown) and burnt fiercely. The rest of the desiccated crop should average 1.9t/ha (0.75t/acre) after drying. Muscat barley disappointed, going flat early. But Hanna was generally good and wheat, mainly Brigadier, did well apart from one field of second wheat. This autumn will see less barley and more wheat drilled, all the extra wheat following breaks, including grassland.

Team effort – Hugh Annett (left) of Widdrington Farm, Morpeth, Northumberland and tractor driver Kevin King take a break to check the quality of Charger winter wheat with son Harry Annett (left) and friend Michael Harrison during Sundays sun. Rain earlier this week halted progress.


CEREAL harvest was completed early this week when the last few fields on the Marlborough Downs, Wiltshire, were cut.

Although few growers are disappointed with their yields, which on average are only slightly down on last year, grain quality, particularly of group II wheats is variable, say merchants.

By the end of this week growers on lighter land will have finished linseed. Robin Appels Chris Spedding says earlier fields averaged about 2.5t/ha (about 1t/acre). The later ones look thicker and should do better, matching last years 2.5-3.6t/ha (1-1.45t/acre).

By contrast, peas generally have been disappointing. Many of the crops handled by Banks Southern of Andover, Hants, have yielded a mere 2.5t/ha (1t/acre), 30% below last year.

One of the few exceptions is Eiffel, grown for seed by Michael Roe near Broad Chalke, Salisbury, Wilts. It produced 4.6t/ha (1.85t/acre), well above his average, largely due to two well timed fungicide treatments recom- mended by agronomist, Joss Wood.

The yield of Andrew Barrs Celica and Elan peas at Lenham, Kent, 3.7t/ha (1.5t/acre), was slightly down on last year. But his first Linola crop performed better than expected at 2t/ha (0.8t/acre).

Godwin review

A pleasant surprise, is the harvest verdict of barometer grower Patrick Godwin at Wephurst Farm, Wisborough Green, West Sussex.

"It has been a bit of a curates egg, with some good and some disappointing results," he says. "But the wheats ended up averaging more than 3.6t/acre, the same as in the past two years, which is better than I expected. And the rape at 1.5t/acre was pleasing." Even some over-thick Consort wheat after set-aside, which lodged as early as March, was upright come harvest, albeit delivering only 8t/ha (3.25t/acre). "Combining was a piece of cake. We were stopped only twice, once in wheat and once in oats, and moistures have been down to 13%, so there was less drying than usual. It has been quite a relief." Only Gerald winter oats and first-time Eiffel spring peas failed to deliver as hoped. Poor specific weight (44-48kg/hl), possibly the result of crown rust, hit oat yield.


IN the east up to 95% of crops, bar some beans, have been harvested, but westwards as much as a quarter of wheats remain uncut.

Lingrains Nigel Stevenson reckons wheat yields are about 7% up on last year, mainly due to better specific weights. But Hagbergs in Rialto have often been inexplicably poor and proteins are generally on the low side.

Barometer farmer Steven McKendrick is disappointed not to have finished at Blakenhall Park, Burton-on Trent. He still had 81ha (200 acres) of spring beans and a small area of wheat to do at the start of the week.

Budgeted wheat yield is 8t/ha (3.3t/acre). "Until recently we were averaging 3.5t/acre. But 150 acres of flat Riband on poor land 500ft up did less than 2.5t/acre and pulled us back to an average of 3.3t/acre. Its quality is dire.

"Good triazoles take some beating," he observes after a strob programme returned £57/ha (£23/acre) less than a conventional approach in a 40ha (100-acre) split-field test.

Three reasonable combining days over the Bank Holiday helped many growers in the Notts area finish, reports Brian Wells of Edwalton-based Wells Agriculture. Further west some growers are blaming strobilurin fungicides for delayed starts. "People have been pleasantly surprised with yields and quality. Some yields have been exceptional. But there is still too much to be done to be comfortable."

Riband wheat was coming off at 8.6t/ha, 1.25t/ha below normal on McKenzie Brothers Redhills Farm, Madderty, Perth, last Friday, when just one field remained to be cut.


WHEAT and spring barley are nearly done, with yields average overall, but especially variable between farms for wheat.

"Quality is pretty good, but we are seeing a lot of 10-10.5% proteins," reports James Hood, at Dalgetys Shrewsbury office. Bushel weights are well up on last year and Hagbergs are holding up so far. But all milling varieties are struggling on protein.

"There is a big variance in yields, though. It does seem to be a year where high inputs have paid off. Growers who have thrown everything at the crop have got the quality, and reasonable yields," he notes. "And we have seen some lovely samples of spring barleys Chariot and Optic."

Nearby, John Owen of Acton Piggott had just 10% of his 325ha (800 acres) of wheat left to cut on Tuesday. "Wheats have been good, averaging at least 3.5t/acre, and the best did 4t/acre," he says. Consort and Riband did well, but Reaper disappointed at 8.2t/ha (3.3t/acre).

On the Welsh border near Chester, Laurie March has finished winter wheat, but his yields, like many in the immediate area, are disappointing. "First wheats have only done 3t/acre, and second wheat Brigadier only 2t. We are about 0.5t/acre down on average."

In Herefordshire, barometer grower Steven Mackintosh finished harvest on Saturday. He is reasonably pleased with yields set to average 9-9.5t/ha.


AFTER a burst of harvesting last week with wheat coming off at 10-20%, the northern harvest ground to a halt on Tuesday.

Protein contents in milling wheat down to 6% in Northumberland may cause the rejection of up to 75%, reports Gary Bright of the Grain Company at South Shields. "Charger in particular seems to be a quality disaster, even though its yields can be quite good. Specific weights are also very variable on all varieties. We have had 64 and 72 kg/hl in this morning."

David Sandiford of Lilburn Estate, North Middleton is struggling, with only 283 of 688ha (700 of 1700 acres) of combinable crops cut. "The first two fields of Riband are nothing to write home about," says Mr Sandiford.

By contrast, Martin Webster of Brownhill Farm, Hackforth, near Bedale, is pleased. "We finished the wheat last night with yields about 0.5t up, some recording over 9.9t/ha." The combine was cutting 7.5cm (3in) ruts when taken home on Tuesday morning. Oats did well at 6.9t/ha (2.8t/acre), but barley was 1.25t/ha (0.5t/acre) down, he notes.

Wheat from barometer farmer, Keith Snowballs home and contract crops has come off in two categories – rubbish and brilliant. Some fields have done more than 9.9t/ha (4t/acre), including one second wheat. But take-all has hit some other late rotation crops including a fourth wheat. "Amistar ear sprays and programmes have paid hands down even if they have delayed cutting and increased the lodging risk," says Mr Snowball.

"We are 90% cut with two days work left," says Michael Manners, who farms near Darlington. Yields have been about 9.9t/ha (4t/acre) for first wheats but below 7.4t/ha (3t/acre) on the seconds. Malacca cut before the rain looks good quality.


WINTER barley is finished, spring barley half-way through, and the very first wheats are cut, but the weather continues to wreak havoc with progress.

"The winter barleys have been pretty awful, especially in the north," says Robin Bolton of Clarendon Agricare. Spring barley is not so bad, with typical yields at 6.2t/ha (2.5t/acre), and the first wheats cut last weekend look OK, with 74-75kg/hl bushel weight, he adds.

But less than 20% of the wheat was cut on Tuesday this week, and it was raining again.

In Co Down, Graham Furey of Castleview, Maymore, had finished winter oats and barley earlier this week and was ahead of the area, with 30% of his wheat done. "Second wheat Wasp was not good at 2.25t/acre, but Flame has done 3t/acre at 20% moisture. Gerald oats did 3t/acre, which is about average for us," he adds.

Peas dont please for Devon arable farmer Nick Roach. This crop of late-April sown Bacarra yielded just 2.4t/ha (1t/acre) at Downes Home Farm near Crediton, Exeter.


STROBILURIN fungicides may not suit all Scottish conditions, although they are being praised for keeping crops clean in a difficult disease year.

Three or four dry days last weekend turned to rain on Tuesday, with a very poor forecast for the rest of the week. That frustrated barometer grower Eric Haggart at Bailielands, Perthshire, who saw the dry days go by with unfit wheat while neighbours all around were combining.

"The only difference I can think of is that we used strobilurin fungicides, which are known to keep crops greener longer. It may be too long in a wet year."

But David Jack in Aberdeenshire insists his wheat is ripening despite strobilurins keeping leaves greener. "This has been a bad disease year and the new chemistry has kept the crops wonderfully clean. I am very excited about them and look forward to newer ones."

Alan Whiteford at Tain in Ross-shire is also complaining about a late harvest, although he used no strobilurins. "It is just the season and we are still some way from wheats and only 20% of the barley is cut in this area. Optic is doing 2.25t/acre at 1.48% nitrogen and 11-13% screenings off the combine. Landlord has given 2.4t and with lower screening but higher nitrogen at 1.75%."

Chariot screenings in Mr Whitefords area have been as high as 50%. In Perthshire Mr Haggart says Maresi has been bad for brackling, with up to 0.37t/ha (3cwt/acre) lost to the field floor at combining. &#42

Restoring confidence in arable farming – the role of integrated systems

Organised by IACPA in association with farmers weekly and MAFF

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