Farming News - Harvest : Crops perform as expected following a ‘mixed bag’ season

Harvest : Crops perform as expected following a ‘mixed bag’ season

14 Sep 2020
Agronomy / Frontdesk / Arable

Arable farmers across the UK have been faced with the ultimate mixed season for combinable crops, with weather playing a dominant role in yield and quality.

“Getting crops in the ground last autumn was just the start of the issues facing the 2019/20 season,” says Jonathan Baxendale, Wynnstay combinable crops manager.

“We were met with a series of floods in the new year, followed by a prolonged drought during the early stages of crop establishment. Crop performance has varied depending on type, region and drilling dates, so it’s not the year to base next season buying decisions purely on variety performance – consulting the Recommended List for details and expected agronomic characteristics is advised.”

He notes however that some winter wheat growers have been pleasantly surprised with crops drilled between mid-September and mid-October, with yields getting towards the 9tn/ha mark and beyond.

“The majority of crops drilled in February and March will have been greatly affected by the drought, so we are already seeing a wide variation of results with soil type having one of the greatest impacts.”

Looking ahead to autumn drilling, Jonathan says he expects to see larger areas of wheat due to the OSR area dropping based on the current well-known issues.

“I expect favourites Graham and Gleam to top the list again as feed variety choices, as will SY Insitor which has significantly stepped up in yields, particularly on light soil and looks to be an ideal replacement for those who favoured Shabras.

“Extase has also continued to grab headlines this year, with more seed supply on the back of losing the fungicide CTL to control Septoria Tritici. It’s been a variety of choice for many, supported by decent tonnage, however, this demand does mean seed supply is extremely short at this stage,” he adds.

Other varieties to consider are RGT Saki, new to 2020 which has looked exceptionally clean in trial plots and its slightly later maturing characteristics looks to have suited this year. “And, not to forget the highest yielding wheat on the List – LG Skyscraper, which has yielded well with lots of positive comments coming from farmers.”

Winter Barley options

Jonathan says winter barley crops were looking disappointing as harvest approached, and this was echoed in the yields, with a lot of farms reporting yields of not much more than 5tonne/ha, meaning overall, there will be a lower grain yield and less straw around.

Despite the poor performance, favourites Surge, Valerie, Orwell and Cassia yielded well, and he expects their popularity to continue into 2021, along with new potential new additions to the Recommended List, Bolton and KWS Tardis, which performed extremely well in AHDB harvest trials.

“When it comes to Hybrid Barley, SY Kingsbarn continued to lead the way with yield potential, and another to watch is SY Thunderbolt. This is on the candidate list, and is taking specific weight even further, so one to look out for next autumn,” he adds.

“Overall, crop performance has been disappointing this year and once combines have finished thoughts will quickly turn to next year, and hopeful that 2021 will be a more prosperous year. Cropping choices and varieties for next season will be being made now, and should be taking into account options which suit both end market demand and the topography of the farm to make the most of 2021,” Jonathan concludes.