ADAS Harvest Report 1 - Week 3

ADAS Harvest Report 1 - Week 3

Summary Overview – Weeks 1-3

The start of harvest was delayed compared with recent years, due to slow ripening of the crop, with the first crops of winter barley harvested in the period 15-21 July, occasional crops were harvested earlier.  The weather in this period was largely dry, with an average rainfall of 10 mm and weekly air temperatures averaging 16 degrees celsius. The dry weather continued into the early part of the period 22-28 July allowing further progress to be made on the harvest of both winter barley and winter oilseed rape. However, a band of heavy rain affected most of the country on Friday 24 July, bringing with it cooler conditions, resulting in the weekly average air temperature dropping to 14 degrees celsius.  The weather since then has been largely unsettled, with insufficient time between showers for harvest to restart. By 28 July an estimated 30% of winter barley was harvested with early yields above average. An estimated 15% of winter oilseed rape was also harvested with yields typically above the 5 year average, although it must be noted that yield information is based on a small area harvested to date. Limited quality data is available, although early quality indicators are good. The majority of crops harvested in the South East and Eastern regions were harvested at low moisture contents and as a result few crops harvested to date have required drying.

Headlines

Table 1

Weather

The weather between 15-21 July was mainly settled and dry, with below average rainfall (10 mm)  and around average temperatures (16 degrees celsius), allowing a start to harvest of winter barley and winter oilseed rape in southern and eastern regions. The settled weather continued through to 23 July. There was a notable change in the weather from 24 July onwards, with winds turning more northerly and a band of heavy rainfall affecting the country.  Average rainfall between 22-28 July was 31 mm. Most of the highest rainfall was in the Eastern region (46 mm), coinciding with the areas where most crops were ready for harvest.  In contrast rainfall in Scotland averaged 19 mm, here crops are still weeks away from harvest. Air temperatures averaged 14 degrees celsius which was two degrees below normal for the time of year.

Figure 1  Average regional weekly rainfall in mm (week 1 - WE 14 July)

Fig 1

Source: ADAS from Met Office Weather Data

Harvest progress

In southern and eastern regions, the earliest crops of winter barley and winter oilseed rape crops on lighter land were harvested in early July, although most crops in southern and eastern regions were not ready to harvest until 17 July onwards.  Good harvest progress was made in these regions between 18 -23 July aided by calm, dry weather and crops being fit for harvest. Between 22-28 July harvest was possible for over 10 hours on most days, with some combine harvesters working late into the night ahead of forecasts of a change in the weather.  Persistent and sometimes heavy rainfall from 24 July onwards across most regions has prevented further harvest progress.  The main areas of harvest activity between 17-28 July have been in the South West, South East and Eastern regions.  A start was made to harvest in the Midlands and Yorkshire with occasional early maturing crops on light land harvested.

Harvest Progress

Winter wheat

Table 2

Harvest of winter wheat for grain had not yet started by WE 28 July, although a small area of wheat was harvested for whole crop silage. Harvest is expected to start in the first week of August. This is behind the earliest recent harvest but in line with some of the later recent harvests.

General comments

A very small proportion (<1%) of the crop has lodged, mainly on field headlands, although crops are still vulnerable to lodging up until harvest.

Winter barley

Table 3

Harvest of winter barley started around 17 July, with occasional crops harvested on light land in the South East and Eastern regions. By the 28 July, an estimated 30% of the national area had been harvested, with the first crops harvested in the Midlands, South West and Yorkshire from 20 July onwards.  This is a relatively late and slow start to winter barley harvest compared to the earliest recent harvest and the five year average (Figure 2). This is partly due to crop development being behind recent years at the end of June, and these delays in development have also resulted in slow ripening of crops on heavy land in particular as well as heavy rain which slowed progress from 24-28 July. 

An estimated 2% of the winter barley area has lodged. Lodging has mainly been confined to field headlands or areas of fertiliser overlap within fields.

Figure 2 Winter barley harvest progress comparison – Cumulative percentage area harvested compared with previous years.

Fig 2

Source: ADAS 2015

Harvest progress is most advanced in the Eastern region where an estimated 70% of the winter barley area was harvested to date. Good progress was also made in the South East and South West regions with almost 50% of the winter barley area harvested in these regions (Figure 3). Smaller areas were harvested in Yorkshire and Humber, North West, East Midlands and West Midlands. Harvest of winter barley is yet to begin in other northern regions, Wales and Scotland.

Figure 3. Regional Harvest Progress - Winter barley harvested in hectares compared with the regional area (outline box)

Fig 3

Source: ADAS 2015

Yields

It is still very early in harvest 2015 and only small amounts of yield data are available for the earliest harvested crops. Early yields have ranged from 5.7-10.5 t/ha, with the highest yields from hybrid 6 row varieties grown on the heavier soil types, whilst the lower yields have come from malting varieties.  Typical farm crops have yielded about 10%, sometimes more, above the farm average.  This gives a current UK winter barley yield estimate of 7.0-7.2 t/ha, compared to the 10 year average yield of 6.5 t/ha. This assessment is supported by early AHDB Recommended List trial data where control varieties are yielding 10.88 t/ha, compared to a 5 year average of 9.35 t/ha (a 16% increase). 

Quality

Quality data at this stage of harvest is very limited, with only occasional crops sampled and tested.  Information given at this stage of harvest should be treated with caution given the small sample size and bias towards early maturing varieties in the south and east of England.

Early quality indications are good, with clean and bright samples. Less bright samples are expected in the coming week due to rain causing delays in harvesting. 

• Specific weight – Specific weights of the first crops harvested ranged from 65-69 kg/hl.

• Grain nitrogen (malting varieties) – Early samples have grain N contents of 1.3-1.5%.

• Screenings – Early screenings are 2-4% (average 3%)

• Moisture – Moisture contents typically started at 15-16%, coming down to 14% post drying.

Spring barley

Table 4

Harvest of spring barley has not yet started.

Occasional crops (<1%) have lodged caused by heavy rain over the last week.

Oats

Table 5

Harvest of oats has not yet begun. Lodging levels are low (<1%), and mostly confined to field headlands.

Winter oilseed rape

Table 6

Harvest of winter oilseed rape began in mid-July, with approximately 15% of the UK area harvested to date. Harvest progress is in line with the 5 year average (Figure 4).

Figure 4 Winter oilseed rape harvest progress comparison – Cumulative percentage area harvested compared to previous years.

Fig 4

Source: ADAS 2015

The majority of the oilseed rape crop harvested to date was in the Eastern region with an estimated 40% of the regional winter oilseed rape area harvested. A good start was also made in the South West and small amounts of oilseed rape were harvested in the South East and Midlands. Harvest had yet to begin in more northern regions.

Yields

Yield information this early into harvest is still limited with the majority of the information available from crops in the Eastern region and a small number of crops in the South East and South West.  Early yields tend to be 3-9% more than the farm average, giving a current national yield estimate of 3.5-3.7 t/ha, compared to the UK 10 year average of 3.4 t/ha. Yields to date have ranged from 2.3-5.1 t/ha, with the best yields currently seen on heavier land, where crops have been less affected by the very hot and dry weather between June-July. The lower yields have come from those crops that were adversely affected by Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle (CSFB).

Quality

As harvest of oilseed rape only began in earnest in the last two weeks, there is little quality data available.

• Moisture – Early harvested crops required minimal drying, although the variable weather in the Midlands and South West meant that some crops harvested in these regions have required drying.

Spring oilseed rape

Table 7

Spring oilseed rape harvest has not yet begun.

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Table 8

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