Widespread Sprouting Triggered – Farmers Guardian – Jim Clark

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Jim Clark (3)The impact of the wet weather on crop quality is beginning to show, as rainfall continues to put a dampener on what looked to be a promising harvest.

In north Cumbria, standing wheat crops are sprouting in the ear as a result of the sustained wet and warm conditions, according to Hutchinsons agronomist Jim Clark.

He says: "We have some laid wheat, but even the standing wheat is starting to sprout now.

“This will have an effect on the quality and feed value of the grain.

"Fields are becoming that wet, physically travelling with the combines is getting quite difficult too. It is really turning into a snatch and grab harvest.”

With most winter barley crop in the area cut, winter wheat and spring barley remain in the field, and spring barley will be ready in the next 10 days, says Mr Clark.

“In general, winter barley and winter wheat we have cut has been really good but it is physically getting that crop,” he says.

“There is lots of straw laid where we cannot get it dry enough to bale, so it is quite grim at the moment.”

Brett Askew, North East NFU combinable crops chairman, who farms near Gateshead, is harvesting winter oats between the showers.


He says: “I feel lucky to have got barley and rape in, as quite a few farmers still have them to harvest.

“Some of the oats are really flat and have germinated. They went down a long time ago and are as difficult as I have known for a long time.

“Barley straw is still to be baled – it was cut on July 24. Some farmers in this area are cutting wheat at 23 per cent moisture because of shedding and sprouting.

“They want to get it in before it gets worse.”

Mr Askew says harvest has also been more expensive, calculating that he has used a third more diesel for harvesting than last year.

“We have been going slower and there is the weight of corn on the chopper," he says.

“There is also the knock-on effect of drying costs and extra haulage because of wetter grain."

In Cambridgeshire and Rutland, up to 20 per cent of Steve Briggs' organic winter oat crop has been lost to strong winds.

He says: “It was dry and fit and when we were combining it was about 13 per cent moisture, but the wind last weekend [August 11-12] just threshed it in the field.

"What we have cut came in quite well until that wind came through, Mascani was yielding 6.4 tonnes/hectare, but is down to 5.5t/ha now.”