25 July 1997


WINTER barley is proving variable in all aspects – yield, quality, and fitness to combine.

Outputs are well down on last years, but hopes remain high for later crops, if the weather holds.

South-west barometer grower Richard Payne, near Taunton, Somerset, was expecting to start his winter barley about mid-week, though it was still not 100% ripe. He has finished his winter rape.

"We were rather disappointed with the yield of about 23cwt/acre or 2.8t/ha. But it was cheap to grow – no fungicides or herbicides – and the variable costs totalled only £56/acre."

Further east in Somerset, Archie Montgomery has pushed ahead with winter barley. "We have had to dry almost everything. Once it reaches 18% moisture we cut it, regardless." By Monday evening three-quarters of the crop was in. Gleam was 1.8%N, hopefully Regina will test better. Combine monitoring suggests yields are 6.9-7.2t/ha (2.8-2.9t/acre).

Near Blandford in east Dorset, Nick Harding finished winter barley over a week ago. Angora met contract at 1.75%N, but yielded only 5.6t/ha (2.25t/acre). Pipkin and Fanfare were better at 7.4t/ha (3t/acre), with 1.45-1.5%N Pipkin and 1.55%N Fanfare.

In South Devon, Michael Pearson of R Cundy and Sons reports variable winter barley, from 4.9t/ha (2t/acre) in the worst field, to nearly 7.4t/ha (3t/acre) on the best. Quality is reasonable at 66/67kg/hl.

Like many others, his crops have not ripened uniformly, so combines have moved from field to field without clearing any of them.

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