Arable farmers report a good quality harvest

Arable farmers able to combine wheat crops ahead of last month's deluge reaped a very good harvest, according to the Home-Grown Cereals Authority.

Arable farmers able to combine wheat crops ahead of last month's deluge reaped a very good harvest, according to the Home-Grown Cereals Authority.

The first results from the latest Cereal Quality Survey show that the early harvested samples recorded good quality, said the HGCA's economist, Michael Archer.

With the cereal harvest now almost complete across the east of England, it has become an increasingly drawn-out and frustrating month for arable farmers. An estimated 1pc or 2pc of wheat and winter bean crops are still left in the fields.

North Norfolk grain merchant Andrew Dewing said there were still "bits and pieces" to harvest along the coast with some farmers having between 10 and 20 acres to finish, particularly down into Suffolk and parts of Essex.

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He said that the harvest had been a case of "before and after" but fortunately, the overall quality of late harvested wheat had held up with most samples above 72kg.

The investment in a new dryer had helped Aylsham Grain Storage achieve a big increase in throughput, said Mr Dewing, who manages the co-operative facility alongside his own merchanting business.

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"We've already handled a total of 25,000 tonnes of grain in our 20,000-tonne capacity store," he said. "We've taken in malting barley with a moisture content of 12.4pc and after August 6, we've dried wheat with 24.6pc moisture.

"Overall, and this has been really surprising, the total average moisture content for grain has been 16pc. I think that many would have thought that it would have been much higher," said Mr Dewing.

The first results from the HGCA Cereal Quality Survey were produced from 12,226 samples of wheat and 9,634 samples of barley in Britain. It includes sample data sent to the HGCA by August 30 and the data is therefore skewed towards earlier-cut varieties in the southern and eastern regions.

The results are also skewed towards samples collected before mid-August, when significant amounts of rainfall were recorded.

"However these results represent the first 25pc of the harvest which was cut before the wet weather in August, so there is scope for this number to change by the final results," he added.

The results from wheat crops, which were analysed before August 30, show that the Nabim (National Association of British and Irish Millers) Group I wheats averaged 14.2pc moisture, specific weight of 76.8kg per hectolitre, Hagberg falling number of 376 and protein content of 13.7pc. For Group II samples, the specific weight was 78.3kg/hl, Hagberg 358 and protein at 12.8pc.

There was an equally encouraging picture from early barley results with the estimated specific weights from all areas at 67.9kg/hl - marginally better than last year and ahead of the average for the last three seasons of 67kg/hl.

"We will have to wait and see how the full picture emerges as later cut samples are analysed," said Mr Archer. "This will give us a much clearer regional analysis and will include samples which may have been affected by the recent wet weather in parts of the country," he added.

Updated information will be made available in the coming weeks as more sample information is made available to HGCA. All results will be presented on the HGCA's website ( where final historical results may also be viewed.

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