AFTER a delayed and catchy start, the harvest in England is proceeding apace as a result of warmer weather and a drying breeze.
According to Grainfarmers’ regional teams, although quality and yields are indifferent, the general feeling is one of relief – the 2007 harvest could have been so much worse.
However, Scotland is currently less fortunate. With 1.5in of rain across the country’s main arable regions in the last 24 hours, growers are playing a waiting game.
“The weather picked up just at the critical time,” says Grainfarmers’ arable business manager in North-East England, Nigel Britland.
“The oilseed rape will be finished by the middle of the week, the winter barley’s all in, bar a bit of tidying up on the Wolds, and we’re about 20% of the way through the wheat now.”
According to Mr Britland, rape yields are “disappointing” at an average of around 3.7t/ha for what is a traditionally a high-yielding area.
Although barley yields are OK at 7.4t/ha for malting and 8.6t/ha for feeds, malting quality is disappointing with higher grain nitrogens than usual. As for northern wheats, he said it was too early to get a really accurate picture.
But he fears that the suspected impact of the spring drought will be realised.
“Crops on the lighter soils, where tillers were dropped, have never recovered and early yields are well down.
“On heavier soils, yields are looking reasonably good, at around 10t/ha. However, quality is variable. Bushel weights range from the mid 60s to 80kg/hl and Hagbergs vary from 80 to 300 plus.
“Where the worst of heavy summer rain fell, around South Yorks and the Humber area, some 50% of crops are lodged, and though quality has been badly affected, growers are relieved that yields are better than once feared.
“The best news is that, though there might be some compacted ground at the end of the harvest, the sight of bogged combines has completely dissipated,” says Mr Britland. If the forecast is to be believed then harvest in the Vale of York will be done by the middle of August – a fantastic turnaround.”