Barley crops out-yield others in harvest race

The fifth week of the normal UK harvest window saw harvesting under way in most areas, resulting in 75% of the winter barley crop under combine


Harvesting has been slower in the north, with 50% of winter barley crops cleared by the end of last week. Yields are currently yielding 5.5 – 12.4 tonnes per hectare (t/ha)

Nationally, only 5% of winter wheat has been harvested, with crop yield ranging from 5.5 – 12.4 (t/ha). Early yields from winter oat varieties range from 4.6 – 9.5 t/ha from 10% of crops harvested to date.

Winter oil seed rape (OSR) ranges from 2.2 – 5.5 t/ha with 30% of the crop harvested. However, OSR harvest is progressing slower this year due to late flowering and ripening of the crop. Unsurprisingly, harvesting of spring sown OSR has yet to be reported.

Roger Dickinson, managing director of Morpeth-based plant hire and machinery specialists, J. O. Straughan, and past chairman of the National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) said winter barley harvest in the region had proven better than previously expected.

He said: “We have finished combining winter barley crops and volume has out-yielded the other varieties.

“Crops may not be as high yielding due to the weather conditions, but volume has been running at over 3.5 –3.75 tonnes per acre. We started to harvest the first early winter wheat crops on Friday and will need to combine more acres before having a fair assessment of yield.”

Dickinson believes farmers and contractors may be able to get back on track with winter wheat harvesting, provided rain does not cause delays.

“We have three high capacity combines and in the past few weeks were able to combine large areas of winter barley, as the moisture content was down to 14-15%. Provided we have dry conditions, combines should be able to roll across the North East in earnest,” he said.

The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board crops division has recorded nine winter barley results in from trials, from Hampshire to Scotland.

Winter barley yields for 2013 are averaging 8.51 t/ha (3.44t/acre), which is just below the five-year rolling average figure of 8.76t/ha (3.55t/acre)

The best yields have been harvested in Lincolnshire, where varieties averaged 10.01t/ha (4t/acre).

Rhynchosporium and mildew are the most common diseases reported in the trials, but levels of disease infestation are generally low.


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