The harvest has progressed well with the help of the recent high temperatures. Winter barley harvesting is now virtually complete in many areas but not long under way across much of Northern Ireland.

Winter barley yields improved as the harvest progressed in the past week. There were still some poorer crops but, as the harvest moved northwards and inland, there were far more reports of 4t/ac and up to 4.5t/ac.

With winter barley harvesting now virtually complete in the south, it is obvious that crops there suffered for a range of reasons, most of the blame being put on virus infection.

There are also reports of take-all in crops but early sowing may have predisposed such crops to both diseases. Rotation is frequently associated with the higher yields.

Not surprisingly, grain moisture levels have been low to very low with most deliveries below 15% moisture in the past week and some down to 11%.

Grain quality was a big issue with the lower-yielding crops – both screenings and specific weight – but both have improved as yields climbed. However, quality is regarded as being somewhat lower than last year on average.

Harvesting of winter oilseed rape and oats has also started, with early reports very encouraging.

Early rape crops have yielded from 1.9t/ac to 2.27t/ac at low moistures, with reports on oats from 3.5t/ac to 4.5t/ac.