Harvest roundup: Awaiting return of dry weather

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Harvest remains on hold across much of the country today (8 August), following heavy rain over the weekend.

In Kent, Bill Harbour was busy ploughing and subsoiling ground for oilseed rape at Gosmere Farm, Sheldwich, while the weather dried out.

His Gallant milling wheat yielded over 10t/ha (4t/acre) at 83kg/hl, and 13-13.3% protein, but Solstice had probably outyielded it, at 10.5-11t/ha (4.25-4.45t/acre) over the combine.

Further west, harvest was proving very slow and frustrating at Roger and Peter Colebrook’s Whitehall Farm, Reigate, Surrey.

“The grain is ripe but the straw is green; I’ve never known a year like it,” said Roger. “We’re trying to cut Soissons at the moment; we sprayed it off two weeks ago but it just doesn’t want to ripen.”

On the Grade four light land, yields were likely to be 15-20% down, but quality was good so far, he said.

Wheat quality was also good at Tiln Farms Ltd, Retford, Nottinghamshire, where Russell Fraser had finished cutting winter wheat, leaving just spring barley left to do.

The Gallant had averaged just 5.4-5.7t/ha (2.2-2.3t/acre), but quality was exceptional at 81kg/hl, 14.4-14.5% protein and over 300 Hagberg.

Winter barley didn’t fare too badly, averaging just under 6t/ha (2.4t/acre) across the farm.

In Gloucestershire, Ian Branstone was having a fantastic harvest at Bourton Hill Farm, Bourton-on-Water.

“The Cabernet and Sesame oilseed rape were both amazing, averaging over 5t/ha (2t/acre,” he said. “We’re very pleased with that.”

Quench spring barley was also yielding well and was passing for malting use with a nitrogen content of 1.69%. “It’s much better than I ever hoped for.”

But in Scotland, heavy rain over the weekend had stymied any chances of combining today at Balgone Farms, North Berwick, East Lothian.

“It’s been pretty constant since Saturday lunchtime, and the forecast is fairly awful. I don’t think we’ll get much done this week,” said James Grant-Suttie.

“The Gallant wheat looks good; if this week is a write off but next week brightens up it may be dry enough to get at.”

One crop which had performed well this year was peas, with new varieties demonstrating excellent standing ability, said Dr Anthony Biddle, technical director at the Processors and Growers Research Organisation (PGRO).

“The full potential of combining peas has been realised this year and, although there are still crops in the west and north to cut, there is a lot of optimism.”

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