Sun shines on harvest - but prices are the black cloud

Baling up the straw on a hot summer July evening near Brundall.
Picture by SIMON FINLAY. Baling up the straw on a hot summer July evening near Brundall. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Friday, July 25, 2014
4:39 PM

The message from Norfolk farmers is “so far so good” as sunny weather has helped make it a smooth start to the harvest.

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However, while yields are looking good across the board - with one grower predicting a “bumper wheat harvest” - the positive outlook has been tempered by sharply falling prices.

The warm summer has advanced the start of harvesting by more than a week in many places, but unfortunately for our farmers, the favourable weather has been replicated globally amid predictions of a glut.

Joe Mitchell, of Hall Farm, Repps with Bastwick, near Great Yarmouth, said: “We started about a week earlier than normal, which is no bad thing.

“So far we have harvested about 20 acres of winter barley and the yields are extremely high.

“We are a week away from starting the wheat harvest and that is looking very good.

“It established well and has grown well and it is looking like a bumper harvest.”

Andrew Francis, who grows a wide range of crops at Elveden, said yields and quality were good but prices were disappointing.

He said: “We have finished oil seed rape and barley and started on winter wheat, which is extremely early.

“We have been harvesting potatoes and onions for a couple of weeks. On the potato side, yields are higher than some years and quality is good but demand is absolutely awful.

“Commodity prices for vegetables are nowhere.”

David Jones, of Morley Farms, Morley St Botolph, near Wymondham, said he had finished harvesting winter barley and oilseed rape and yields for both had been good – however, the malting quality of the barley had not been great.

He had begun his pea harvest and said he was lucky the crop had escaped the damage caused by heavy rain and hail in some parts of the region.

Duncan West, of Pulham St Mary, near Diss, said: “We have been lucky with the weather as any storms have been followed by very good sunshine.

“I am about 80pc through oil seed at the moment and it is average or slightly above average in terms of yield.

“It has been relatively dry and we have only had to dry 15pc of it.”

He said barley yields had been very good and it was a “good exportable quality”.

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