Rapid harvest progress

The broken weather last week made harvesting difficult in some areas but there has been great progress since the weekend but there are still crops that are no more than ripe.

The good forecast will see a lot more cutting done this week. Moisture levels in ripe crops dropped below 15% quickly, and this means lost weight on the weighbridge with no compensation for the lower moisture.

Harvesting and baling conditions are described as very dusty, so keep filters and radiators blown out to avoid unnecessary delays. This may get worse if operating temperatures increase this week. That also brings the risk of fire.

Crop performance

With some growers already finished, it is encouraging to know that spring barley and winter wheat yields are good. There is yield variability but most farm averages are good.

On wheat, there are lots of 5t plus crops, and many have reported yields well above 5.5t/ac at below 20% moisture. That is a big saving on drying costs.

Spring barley continues to do well, with most crops above 3t/ac and many farm averages running well above this level. Moistures are dropping fast in ripe spring barley, with some intakes reporting loads below 15% and even down to 12%.

Grain quality is excellent on all fronts. Specific weights are high and there are no recent reports of high screenings issues. Proteins have been generally good in spring barley with relatively little rejection.

But protein levels matter now as some maltsters are imposing the distilling and brewing percentages back onto individual growers.

A proportion of winter oilseed rape crops await harvesting as moistures were slow to drop. But once moistures are down, they can quickly drop below 9% and that means weight loss for the grower.


The recently announced derogations mean that there is no obligation to cultivate stubbles that are destined for winter crops. For those with stubbles that are destined for spring crops you do have an obligation to cultivate those that are not being sown to catch crops.

If you are intending to put 100% of stubbles into catch crops there is no need to leave the 20-25% uncultivated. But where stubbles are only going to be cultivated, you are now obliged to leave between 20% and 25% uncultivated to provide feed for overwintering birds.

These are legal requirements but, in my opinion, there is little point in cultivating in very dry conditions. You are only losing dust which carries nutrients in the same way as brown water does.

There will be no germination until we get rain anyway and it is very hard on metal.

Planting time

Planting of winter oilseed rape would normally begin next week but it might be advisable to wait for rain to help uniform germination.

Ground will be warm so it will get off to a flying start if sown slightly later. Take care with soil management to conserve as much moisture as possible.