Stop-start harvest delays wheat and bean harvest

Ed Banks,Manor Farm,Harlton,Cambs
Picture Tim Scrivener date taken 26th August  2011 
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Cambridgeshire grower Edd Banks was hoping to wrap up his harvest this week after recording highly variable yields.

By Monday night (29 August), he had 24ha of winter wheat and 114ha of Fuego spring beans left to cut.

"We sprayed the beans off on Saturday, so they should be ready by the weekend," he said.

"The pods are ripe, but the stalks are still green. They have stayed greener for longer, so hopefully it has given them the chance to put on more weight and size."

Harvest was delayed by a fortnight this year at Manor Farm, Harlton, Cambridge, until 28 July after a rainy spell. But overall, Mr Banks was pleased with the results.

Light land crops were hit hardest by the drought, but crops on heavy land have performed surprisingly well, he said.

Alchemy, the mainstay of first wheats, yielded 8.74t/ha on average, a little below the farm’s average of 9-9.5t/ha.

Gallant has performed "surprisingly well" in the second wheat slot, he noted. "A big block of it has yielded 8.2t/ha on average. It has also produced a lot of straw.

"We’re looking at getting quite a good premium for the Gallant. It’s got reasonable quality with hagberg of 313 and protein of 12.9%."

The Gallant was all cut under 14% moisture content and has been farm-stored, ready to sell.

It produced over three round bales per acre and most has been sold to a trader in Holland.

"We have been loading it up onto lorries as fast as we have been baling it," said Mr Banks. "By the end of the season, we will have done 4,000 bales."

Cordiale second wheat yields by comparison have been disappointing at 7.7t/ha, he added. "Sadly, a lot of it has not made the quality."

Tipple spring barley yields on his lighter land have been extremely poor, at just 2.5t/ha.

"Normally, an average of 6t/ha is possible if you do it right. But it just didn’t work out on the light land," he said.

"I have never seen such a small crop. It was half a foot high in places."

Edd Banks farms 1,200ha in a family partnership from Manor Farm, south west of Cambridge.

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