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Farmers hope for heatwave return for bountiful harvest

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 05, 2013

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Cereal farmers in the Westcountry are praying for a return of dry weather so they can get on with the main grain harvest.

Currently the harvest is running at least a fortnight late, following the coldest spring for decades, coming after an historically wet planting season, which caused difficult establishment for crops throughout the South West region.

In fact up to a fifth of oilseed rape crops were re-sown because of the wash-away conditions, adding expense to the operation and delaying the eventual harvest.

Torrential downpours that ended the heat wave have also hindered what would already have been a late start.

But the good news is that grain quality of cereals already garnered has been at best excellent and always above average.

In fact Ian Davies, the grainstore manager at Kernow Grain in Cornwall, said that some of the winter-sown malting barley that had arrived through the gates of his business near Bodmin had been the best he had ever seen.

"We have taken in some really excellent Maris Otter barley, not just from one holding but from right across the county," he explained. "That alone has given everyone a lift, following a very slow harvest start, reflecting what the weather has been like."

He said farmers growing malting barley varieties should be proud of the results.

"If things continue like this, after a slow but steady start, we should all be optimistic," added Mr Davies. Bushel-weight (the capacity measure) had been "really stunning" for the malting barley, he said.

"The downpours of the past week have been very localised, so while some farmers have been held up, others have been able to crack on," he said.

Some oilseed rape had already arrived at Kernow Grain, the earliest at only 10% moisture level, but later at 14%, which had needed a short while in the drier.

Mr Davies added: "Generally the harvest is running about a fortnight behind normal – and I know there are a lot of growers out there waiting for the weather to perk up so they can get going."

He said he was not expecting to see any winter wheat arrive until the middle of August at the earliest.

Right across the region the big combines have been dodging the storms, working on crops of winter barley, with a start being made a fortnight ago, when grain registered a very low moisture percentage.

Barley and oats plantings increased this year, though wheat plantings diminished, according to a survey by the Home Grown Cereals Authority. It showed an estimated drop in wheat plantings of 26% in the South West, though higher declines in the East Midlands and Yorkshire.

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  • Lafrowda  |  August 05 2013, 8:34AM

    Every acre of oil seed rape less is a bonus for hay fever & migraine sufferers and less chance of bee colony collapse. The Germans wont have it growing near human habitation because of the ijncrease in respiratory problems wherever it is grown.

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