I’m combining wheat, it’s past nine o’clock in the evening and now four long hours since Mrs P had sent the tea out to the field, which we had taken a short break to eat. The darkness is falling, but there’s little dew and it’s likely that we could get another couple of hours. Wheat is fine with a bit of dew, but raindrops could sprinkle the windscreen at any time.

The crop is standing and progress is steady, if not spectacular. That said, it’s a bit of a low point with weariness that’s always remedied by a Snickers and a bottle of Lucozade. I keep a supply of both in the combine cool box.

We finish unloading and Max jumps off his tractor and up on the combine. The moisture’s only 18%, so we crack on.

“That auld four pack of Lucozade that I bought in Ballivor this morning is flat,” I complained to Max.

“Course it’s flat,” said Max. “That’s Lucozade Sport you bought. Healthy isotonic stuff. I’ll drink it if you don’t like it.”

“Sport? What’s the point in flat Lucozade? That’s like buying a Porsche with a poxy little Polo engine. That stuff will never keep me going,” I grunted.

Wheat yields

In the run-up to the harvest, I wasn’t optimistic about the wheat yields. Lodging and the awful July had taken its toll. Unfortunately, this turned out to be the case, but at least we got six dry(ish) days to get it harvested.

And the tracks on the Claas combine were brilliant. I worked away in fields where a wheeled combine would be lost.

With 36mm rainfall in one night as we began combining wheat, it didn’t look good, but we could still work. Tracks and firmer minimum tillage fields made this possible and with no ruts.

Yes, of course, we still did some soil structural damage in wet fields, to the point that the plough may be the only option unless we get some cracking weather this autumn.

But whether it be the plough or min till, both are going to be a pain. Totally flat patches of wheat that passed under the header cause big blockage problems.

Moistures came down surprisingly quickly and were quite low in what was very benign weather. Our best yield was from Graham, at just over 4t/ac, and our lowest was 2.95t/ac from a field that was 85% flat. But I’ll take that.

However, it’s overall averages that count and this works out at 3.7t/ac adjusted to 15% moisture. So, a very disappointing result, but perhaps acceptable for the pig of a year it is. Dawsum was ahead in kg/hl weight and stood better, but nothing spectacular.

Manuals or tomes

Now, machinery operator manuals are on my mind. They have become huge tomes because of all the technology on board.

Whether it be Claas combines or Fendt tractors or whatever, the manuals are so thick you have no hope of finding out something simple you quickly need to know. It’s like rooting through the bible to check out tillage farmer Boaz’s wheat yields.

Machinery manufacturers should supply a concise booklet of say 25 pages with essential information, which will be easy to access. Or, better again, an app for your phone – Claasify – to quickly refresh need-to-know stuff.

A cousin of mine is up with the gods in Claas as senior vice-president western Europe. So come on Edenderry’s Trevor Tyrrell, simplify life for combine drivers who have neither the time nor inclination to wade through two books and 500 boring pages to find out how to adjust the seat. I might even, with technical help, write the book for you in my trademark light and simple no-nonsense way.