Combines have started rolling across the country with oilseed rape and barley being cut ahead of schedule.
Eastern parts of the UK and further south is where the majority of early progress has been made with more growers expected to begin later this week.
At Wilbraham Farms, in Cambridgeshire, Chris Ascroft started his harvest earlier than ever before, cutting the first of his SY Venture winter barley on Thursday 3 July.
The crop, sown on 23 September, has so far yielded about 6.2t/ha, coming in at 13.5% moisture.
“It has looked good all year, but the dry spell in April may have affected the sample a little bit,” he explains.
Using a Claas Lexion 570, Mr Ascroft hopes to finish the rest of the 80ha this week before beginning his oilseed rape, which was desiccated 10 days ago.
“We’ll have to wait for another four days, but it’s not far off. We’ve got several people in the area who have started over the past few days. I think the weather was just too good to turn down,” he says.
At Weald Granary in Kent, the oilseed rape harvest started on 3 July, exactly one month earlier than last year.
“It is quite extraordinary how early it is. We’ve only had a few members who have begun and I would imagine most people will get going towards the end of this week and into next week,” says vice-chairman at Weald Granary, Andy Barr.
“So far what we have had in has been quite dry, at about 6.5% moisture and with a good oil content of 45.7. At the moment it is quite small grain but it is difficult to know how harvest will pan out and if this will change.”
Members from the farmer owned co-operative are set to cut the first of their winter barley later this week, he explains.
The oilseed rape harvest is also under way in the East, according to managing director at Camgrain, Philip Darke, with growers cutting the first of the crop on 3 July.
“It is fit and it’s surprising how quickly the crop has turned in the last few days. So far yields haven’t been anything special and there are a few crops that will have suffered from recent thunderstorms,” he says.
The early barley entering the store has looked more promising, according to Mr Darke, with one farmer cutting Cassata winter barley at 7.5t/h and 1.55% nitrogen.
“Most of the growers on light land will have gone into the rape by the end of this week which is 7-10 days early, and they will also have made a start on the barle,y which is looking about a week earlier than normal.”
Meanwhile, in south Norfolk, Ian Webster of Dewing Grain says growers are gradually entering the winter barley this week, with a report of 9.3t/ha showing good early season promise.
Further south at Berkyn Manor Farm, Horton, Windsor, Colin Rayner continued his harvest progress, completing 30ha of Cassia and Sequel winter barley over the weekend.
“There is a lot of straw and although I thought the bushel weight would be higher, it is still better than we could have imagined after a lot of the ground was under water for seven days at the start of the year.”
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