Barley and OSR harvest under way

ABOUT 10 per cent of the UK winter barley crop had been harvested by the beginning of this week. Most is in the south east and eastern regions, where up to 40 per cent of the area has been completed.

It is still too early to gain a clear picture of quality and yields as crops have been highly variable, with yields ranging from four to 10 tonnes per hectare (1.6-4t/acre) or more, depending on soil type, says ADAS.

Beating the weather

According to Saxon Agriculture’s Mark Smith, malting barley quality looks good, with much of the crop maturing in sufficient time to avoid being overly affected by the dry weather.

“It seems to have escaped the worst of it, with yields that are understandably not as good as last year. but generally seem okay,” he says. “There are one or two examples where yields are sharply down on very light land,” he adds.

Nitrogen contents seem reasonable, coupled with a low level of screenings. However, with spring barley crops starting to be harvested this week, there is a question mark over potentially drought-affected yields for this crop, says Mr Smith.

Association of Independent Crop Consultants (AICC) chairman and Norfolk agronomist, Andrew Watson, says winter barley harvest is about half-way through in the county with better than expected yields so far.

“I expected below-average yields on account of the dry conditions this season, but at the moment they are looking like they could even be above average, particularly with the medium to strong land still to be harvested.”

Crop quality is good, as are nitrogens, while bold grains are making for good specific weights.

“It’s a strange season in terms of localised harvesting conditions. Visiting an Essex farm this week, winter bean harvest was going to begin prior to wheat, which is very unusual,” adds Mr Watson.

Variable yields

Nottinghamshire-based Arable Alliance agronomist Andrew Wells says that with most winter barley grown on sands, yields are variable and there will be no records broken this year.

Oilseed rape harvest is under way, and growers are pleased with yields at 4.4t/ha (1.78t/acre).

However, there is a clear difference in yield between several varieties, and one grower has noted that DK Cabernet is behind others in yield terms, possibly following the difficulties the variety experienced at flowering time.

Andy Scott, technical manager at LW Vass in Bedfordshire, says winter barley quality is good, but the best yields are at 7.5t/ha (3t/acre) on stronger land, the dry season putting paid to anything bigger.

One grower has already starting combining some Cordiale winter wheat grown on ‘very thin’ land. Yields were very disappointing, he says.

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