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Farm boss grateful for ‘silver linings’ after weather hits harvest yields

PUBLISHED: 16:20 06 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:20 07 August 2020

The Euston Estate near Thetford has completed its 2020 cereals harvest ahead of schedule in the dry weather. Picture: Euston Estate

The Euston Estate near Thetford has completed its 2020 cereals harvest ahead of schedule in the dry weather. Picture: Euston Estate

Euston Estate

A major East Anglian farming estate has completed its wheat and barley harvest ahead of schedule – but the same conditions which helped speed the combining were also responsible for a disappointing grain haul.

The Euston Estate near Thetford has completed its 2020 cereals harvest ahead of schedule in the dry weather. Picture: Euston EstateThe Euston Estate near Thetford has completed its 2020 cereals harvest ahead of schedule in the dry weather. Picture: Euston Estate

The Euston Estate, on the Norfolk-Suffolk border near Thetford, has gathered 1,600 acres of cereal crops between June 30 and the evening of August 4, when its 2020 harvest was finished about a week earlier than usual.

Estate director Andrew Blenkiron said this year’s yields had been badly affected by the weather, with barley down 20pc and wheat down 25pc against the farm’s usual averages.

But considering the significant fears for the crop after East Anglia’s driest May on record, he said he was satisfied with how it had recovered after June’s much-needed rains.

“Luckily we got that rain in June which helped us salvage something when we thought we might get nothing,” he said. “I think if we sat and thought about this from where we were at the end of May, this would be acceptable.

The Euston Estate near Thetford has completed its 2020 cereals harvest ahead of schedule in the dry weather. Picture: Euston EstateThe Euston Estate near Thetford has completed its 2020 cereals harvest ahead of schedule in the dry weather. Picture: Euston Estate

“I would suggest barley has probably done 6t/ha (tonnes per hectare) and wheat might have done 6.5t/ha, which is as much as we expected given the conditions during a poor wet winter and an exceptionally dry spring. The average would be 7.5t for barley and perhaps 8.75t for wheat.

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“We’ve probably finished a week ahead of normal. It was made quite a bit easier by the lack of volume.

“The fact we have not had to dry anything has helped, it has been incredibly dry and very easy to combine. We also had a low volume of straw, so it has gone through the combine very fast and that is why we have finished so soon.

“So there is always a silver lining. We have got some good protein levels and Hagbergs (a measure of wheat quality for bread-making) in the milling wheat, but the volume is the problem.”

The same problems have affected growers across the region this year. Norfolk farming spokesman Tony Bambridge, who farms at Blickling near Aylsham, tweeted: “Potentially one of the worst harvests we have ever had, so far. A great wake up call as winter barley and OSR (oilseed rape) are 25pc down, wheat 40pc down, peas 50pc down. Will spring barley save the day?”

READ MORE: Micro-climates dictate farmers’ fortunes during a ‘disappointing’ barley harvest


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