Up and running as the campaign starts at last
Harvest finally got going
across the country this week
with winter barley, oilseed
rape, and even wheat. Our in
depth coverage brings you
progress reports from Lincs
to the South-west, starting
in East Anglia. Edited by
FINE weather earlier this week brought a welcome, if late, start to harvest for most.
Early indications are that oilseed rape yields are below par but barley is better with bold grain but low nitrogens.
"Some Pearl off chalk yielded 66cwt/acre. The sample is good with big bold grain, but nitrogen is only 1.45%," says Camgrains Philip Darke.
In Suffolk, at Tuddenham, Hugh Maddever says his harvest is 10 days later than normal, having started Regina on sand last week. "I did 50 acres. It came off at 15.5% moisture with a weighbridge yield of just over 2t/acre. The sample is a little thin."
At Fulbourn, near Cambridge, Robert Fison has cut Pearl barley. "I have done 50 out of 120 acres, which I guess did 65-66cwt/acre. That is about the same as last years Regina, but a lot better than the 55cwt/acre I used to get with Halcyon and Pipkin."
Oilseed rape has disappointed so far, with Harlow Agricultural Merchants reporting crops in Essex averaging just 2.5t/ha (1t/acre).
At Great Wigborough, David Lennoxs swathed Apex was not that bad, but still not up to scratch. "It came in at 11% moisture and yielded about 25cwt/acre – I normally expect 30."
But in Beds, near Silsoe, Richard ODell says Apex was about average. "It yielded 25-30cwt/acre. It would have been higher, but a lot was lost on the ground."
A TENTATIVE start to harvest has been made in most of the south, but growers are not rushing, with many barleys and oilseed rapes only just ready.
"Growers are trying to avoid drying costs," says Robin Appels Jonathan Arnold. The winter malting barleys seen so far, mainly Pearl and Maris Otter, have low nitrogen and no screening problems.
"It is all within specification."
But conflicting reports are coming in from other traders. Soufflets Ben Schadla-Hall says the handful of Pearl samples they have seen have been a bit high in nitrogen, while SCATS James Ross reports low nitrogens.
"We need more of a cross-section to get a clear picture," says Mr Ross.
Berks-grower Jonathan Holland has cut more than most with 364ha (900 acres) of Siberia cleared of the 4250ha (10,500 acres) he farms from High Close Farm, near Hungerford. Yield averaged a pleasing 7.5t/ha (3t/acre).
"A couple of fields have yielded over 8t/ha," he comments. But quality is varied with specific weights in the low 60s. The farms six combines were due to start oilseed rape midweek.
At Beckhampton, Wilts, David Hues has also cut Siberia. Yielding 7.5-10t/ha (3-4t/acre) with a 65-67kg/hl specific weight it is much better than the older varieties of barley. "We havent ever seen a winter barley anything like this before."
Wiltshire Grains Nick Brown says Pearl and Jewel are now being cut in the county with above average yields, one grower reporting surprise yields of 7.5-8.5t/ha (3-3.5t/acre) compared to his norm of 5t/ha (2t/acre).
Quality of the early barley is good, with lower than expected nitrogens, but he is worried about the quality of the later drilled crops.
"And the oilseed is just not fit yet, even though it looks it. It needs another week of sunshine."
• Bold barley with low N.
• Yields variable.
• Early OSR disappointing.
• Less than 5% of barley and OSR cut as of Tuesday.
The pace of harvest picked up across East Anglia this week. At Rougham Estate Farms, Velcourts new Case 2388 Axial-flow chomped through 29ha (72 acres) of Regina on Monday but pulled out with 12ha (30 acres) to do on Tuesday afternoon to go into industrial OSR. "The pods are getting brittle. I am afraid it will start to shed," says farm manager Andrew Hunt.