8 August 1997


MOST combines have stood still for the past week in the south west, due to heavy rainfall.

At the start of this week there seemed little prospect of restarting.

On the Roseland peninsula in Cornwall Howard Emmett reports over 100mm (4in) in the first four days of August. Wind and rain over the weekend tangled and flattened many crops, especially oats and some of the later winter barleys which had promised heavy yields.

In Devon ADAS consultant Bill Butler reckons 95% of the winter barley had been cut and about 5% of the wheat. Blind ears due to early fusarium infection are evident. Wheat yields are typically about 6.2t/ha (50cwt/acre).

But in parts of Devon and Cornwall where drilling was delayed last autumn there is still a significant area of winter barley to cut, some even now barely ripe.

David Croxton, an agronomist who farms in South Devon and Somerset, is among the more cheerful in the region. "The star this year is undoubtedly oilseed rape. We have had consistently remarkable results. Synergy has done particularly well – one crop did over 2t/acre dried weight – and Apex has yielded up to 35cwt."

Some of the first wheats have been excellent. Estica has been reported with a specific weight of 82kg/hl. "Soissons is in the 55cwt to 3t/acre area with very good Hagberg and proteins".

With a further 50mm (2in) of rain on Tuesday Taunton-based barometer grower Richard Payne regrets not grabbing his Eiffel peas last week. "But they were still 30% moisture and would have needed a lot of drying."

In Somerset winter oilseed rape has done well for former barometer grower Andrew Hebditch at EWH Farms, Martock. Lizard and a trial of French-bred Columbus returned 4.7t/acre (1.9t/acre), but Apex managed only about 3.9t/ha (1.6t/acre), he reports. "They were all drilled at the same time and treated much the same," he notes. The farms running average is about 3.7t/ha (1.5t/acre).

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