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UK harvest 2019 update: Wheat yields and quality looking promising


Good progress is being made with harvest in the south west of England, south of the M4, where there has been “a good run of weather”, according to Frontier regional sales manager, west Russell Dean.


“Farms have progressed into spring barley or winter wheat. As of today [August 5] about 20% of spring barley is in and less than 10% of wheat,” he says.


Spring barley yields are about seven to eight tonnes per hectare, nitrogen levels are below 1.85% and screenings are relatively low, says Mr Dean, although some drying is required.


‘Specific weights are very good’

While it is too early to quantify wheat yields reliably, Mr Dean says they look very promising and “above average”.


“We’ve had a couple of samples. Proteins look around 13% and Hagbergs [falling numbers] are high, with initial samples about 300 plus.


“Specific weights are very good at 78-80” kilogrammes per hectolitre.


‘It was very dry’


Winter barley yielded well in the area with some crops exceeding 10 tonnes per hectare.


While specific weights were good in the main, up to the high 60s kilogrammes per hectolitre, there were pockets where they were lower, says Mr Dean, adding that varieties such as Orwell and Gimlet had done very well.


Performance was more average with rapeseed, which is now all but finished, he says.


“The yield range was 3.5-4 tonnes per hectare. It was very dry.”


‘A good average’

Farming on light, free draining chalky soils in south Cambridgeshire, hot dry conditions this season have dampened yields for Robert Law.


“Carat winter barley has done about 7.8 tonnes per hectare which is a good average considering the season.”


Now cutting spring oats and rye, Mr Law says the former have been very poor due to a dry spring, dry summer and hot temperatures whereas rye has done rather better at 8-9 tonnes per hectare, with its greater tolerance to drought.


“The priority is to get rye cut as you need the Hagberg. It loses it easily and rye without Hagberg is not a good seller.”


‘Not sure it’ll be very high protein’

Intermittent showers have put harvest on hold for some growers in the south of England.


Buckinghamshire grower, Richard Heady cut 40 hectares of Zyatt winter wheat before this morning’s (August 5) rain hit.


He says: “The crop has been coming off at 9.5 tonnes per hectare with a nice bold grain.


“I’m not sure it’ll be very high protein, it doesn’t look it, but we haven’t done tests yet.”


Oats, barley

With 90 hectares of Mulika wheat left to cut, Mr Heady plans to start on oats next. He says: “We will probably do some spring oats while wheat dries out, because they tend to get going quicker.”


Winter barley harvest has finished with 55 hectares of Cassia and the hybrid variety, Bazooka giving “pleasing” yields, Mr Heady says.


“We think the hybrid did about 7.5 tonnes per hectare whereas conventional did about 6.5 tonnes per hectare. However, we think quality is slightly better in the conventional.


“This spring the rain came just right and gave us the quality, compared to last year.”


‘Doing reasonably well’

In East Yorkshire, grower Phil Meadley, who farms near Driffield, is experiencing a stop-start harvest due to rainfall.


He is three-quarters of the way through rapeseed. “It is doing reasonably well. It is yielding roughly 1.75 tonnes per acre.”


He has grown Campus and Anastasia and says there has been more lodging with Campus.


“I don’t think it has done any better than Anastasia and it has been more hassle to harvest so I will grow Anastasia again.”


The worst moisture contents have been about 12.5%, says Mr Meadley. “We’ve been pretty choosy about when we’ve gone. Humidity levels have been very high and we’ve struggled with drying.”


‘Very dry, then rainfall’

Looking ahead, Mr Meadley says wheat harvest is about 10 days away and spring barley has lodged somewhat.


“We missed the second growth regulator but some in the area who used two PGRs are in the same situation as us.


“It could have been due to the weather patterns – very dry, then rainfall following a burst of nitrogen creating soft growth with the stems lengthening, and storms coming when the ear was filling to its maximum weight.”

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