December 13 2013 Latest news:
Michael Pollitt, Agricultural editor
Saturday, August 17, 2013
A stop-start harvest has continued to surprise as Norfolk’s early-drilled wheat has seen high bushel weights.
With winter barley in the barn or already off the farm, quality has delighted merchants and maltsters.
Chris Borrett, a director of merchants Adams & Howling, which is marking its 40th anniversary, said: “We’re been really pleased with the very good winter barley harvest. It has produced low nitrogen, big, bold and dry barley.”
“We’re seeing varieties from Maris Otter, Flagon, Pearl and Venture – all seem to be performing well. Venture has surprised and yielded well while Maris Otter has done well in the east along the coastal belt,” he added.
Aylsham-based grain merchant Andrew Dewing had a sample of Concerto with 1.33pc nitrogen from Broadland farmer Patrick Allen, of Hickling. “It is just fantastic and such very low nitrogen,” he added.
As more wheats have been combined, the bushel weight has impressed. South Norfolk farmer Rob Alexander, of Bush Green Farm, Pulham Market, who grows feed wheat, was surprised when Grafton sent to a mill returned 83kg per hl bushel weight. “It is encouraging so far but I’m still being very cautious. I haven’t got a true handle on yield.”
Norfolk’s 2011 champion farmer, Mr Alexander said that oilseed rape crops had been in a range up to two tonnes an acre. “What looked good has done okay and what didn’t did poorly,” he added.
In North Norfolk, Ed Jones, of Little Witchingham, had “cracked” the spring barley. “On the good land, we’ve had seven tonnes per hectare and on the poor land we’ve had five tonnes,” he said. Quality was good, which was a reversal of last year, with “very bold grains, no screenings and very low nitrogens.”
A new malting variety, SY Venture, had done well with 1.49pc to 1.5pc nitrogen. Once barley and oilseed rape had been cleared, he would combine rye and wheat, he added.
In mid-Norfolk, James Keith, of Hoe, near Dereham, said that winter barley yields and quality was better than expected at between seven and 8.5t ha. “Cereals drilled after beet and later-drilled had struggled. Two years ago we had a drought and one of our worst years. The heavier land in middle England had a big tax bill and I didn’t, so it is swings and roundabouts,” said Mr Keith.
Breckland farmer Francis Ulrych, of Griston, near Watton, has combined winter and most of his spring barley. “We’ve got a malting sample for the spring barley which yielded reasonably well,” he added. His oilseed rape was not fully fit but after 3mm of rain on Thursday, he hoped to make a start.
In West Norfolk, Ed Lankfer, of Boughton, near Downham Market, had winter barley yields between 2.5 to 3t an acre. “We grew some seed barley, KWS Glacier for Openfield, which has done very well at more than 3t and bushel weight of 66kg to 67kg. “If we had wheat with that quality last year, we’d have been chuffed to bits.”
“We had a trial for Syngenta of Volume, the new hybrid barley. It had very high bushel weights and yield.”
Mr Lankfer hoped to combine his 20 ha of oats before starting wheat. “The oats looked to be some of the best we’ve had. Normally, the ears are fit but the straw is green but this year, it all seems to be fairly uniform and golden all the way through.”
Neighbour, farmer and contractor Wayne Garrett, of Elm Tree Farm, Wereham, had 3mm on Thursday but enough to halt progress. He was more than happy with his oilsed rape although one field was badly hail-damaged.
“I think everyone has done pretty well with rape in the 1.5t to 2t mark,” he added.
His new combine, a John Deere S960I, with a 30ft header, had romped through crops. “It is an exceptional piece of machinery and we can gather some stuff with that.” The first 110 acres of wheat had been cut, including 50 acres of Gallant. His 60 acres of Santiago had yielded 9.5t to 10t per hectare at 76kg.
“I think we’re about four tonnes an acre with that bushel weight. It is a lot better than expected because back in March and April when we wondered if there could be a harvest,” said Mr Garrett.
He combines 500 acres for other farmers and has grown some spring wheat, Mulika, for the first time.
Two hundred jobs are set to be created after one of west Norfolk’s largest businesses was granted permission to expand its King’s Lynn facilities.