29 September 1997


FREQUENT rain showers continue to delay harvesting, and traders report mounting quality problems.

Val Everall of Wrekin Farmers lists weathering, low specific weights, poor Hagbergs in wheat, and high nitrogens in malting barleys as the key concerns. "The volume being offered is very low, but I have seen oats with a bushel weight of only 42kg/hl, and a large number of milling wheats below 72kg/hl. Hagbergs of below 200 are not uncommon."

The most difficult harvest since 1992 is the verdict of Stephen Klenk, Garston Estates, Weobley, Hereford. His biggest disappointment has been the loss of a £30/t malting premium on 240t of contract grown Chariot spring barley with 2.0%N. Early this week he was struggling to clear lodged Soissons winter wheat that was yielding 7.8t/ha (3.2t/acre) at 23% moisture.

After taking 7.3/ha off wheat that was "flat as a pancake" the combine was idle for most of last week for Stourport on Severn barometer growers Andrew and Tony Symonds. After the weekend they still had 14ha of Chablis spring wheat and 18ha of Reaper and Brigadier winter wheat to cut.

"Moistures were 24% on Tuesday and we will not start until they fall to around 18%," insists Andrew Symonds. "Crops are standing well and if we can get drying conditions the harvest will still be one of our best ever."

Farmer contractor David Evans, Guilsfield, Powys, says he has seldom tackled so many badly lodged spring barley crops.

"On some farms we are practically having to scrape it out of the ground, which is affecting yield and sample quality. Rain has seriously delayed wheat harvesting in the border area."

His own Hannah winter barley averaged 7.2t/ha (2.9t/acre) Triticale, grown as an alternative to wheat because it is less susceptible to badger damage and grazing by rabbits, averaged a disappointing 6t/ha (2.4t/acre).

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