Wet weather fails to dent early harvest yields

The 2013 cereal harvest was never going to be a record breaker in yield; the wet autumn last year and cold spring this year saw to that.

Neither was it going to be a particularly early combining – as the late sowing put paid to an early harvest.

But with about 5 per cent of the UK combinable crops acreage now having been taken, there is now a little optimism based on the quality and yields of harvested crops.

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In Scotland, the harvest so far has been limited to winter barley with Andrew Moir, chairman of the National Farmers’ Union Scotland’s combinable crops committee, commenting, “Overall, quality so far seems to be good with reasonable yields.”

But he cautioned “There is 
still a long way to go with the weather – as always – playing a major role.”

An NFU Scotland survey suggests that spring barley will not be ready to combine for at least another week or two and this could put it on a collision course with oilseed rape harvesting.

Although many growers were threatening to plough up their rape crops in the spring because they looked so poor, the consensus is that they have made a remarkable recovery and yield prospects look reasonable.

South of the Border, the harvest is further on but still well behind the 20 per cent normally cut by the end of the first week in August. David Sheppard, managing director of grain merchant Gleadells, also remarked on the better-than-expected quality in the grain cut.

“A long-anticipated fall in production after a poor sowing season could be accompanied by better quality. Early reports of wheat being cut suggest quality is good.”

Commenting on how he saw the market, Sheppard said that with the UK set to produce the smallest wheat harvest since 2001, growers were hopeful that the lower quantity would be offset by quality premiums.

But he warned: “Prices remain under pressure from the wider global markets – and will not be helped by the recent rise in sterling following the Bank of England’s inflation report.”