Yields looking good

27 August 2014

Harvest was completed on 21 August, which is a record early finish for us, although it hides the fact that the last third took longer to cut than the first two thirds due to the weather turning showery from about 5 August.  This has then been followed by an exceptionally wet bank holiday with 26mm of rain falling, allowing everybody some well-deserved time off.  The rain was pretty welcome, really, because all of the OSR was drilled and rolled by the middle of the previous week and has now been watered in nicely and is all beginning to come through well.  Slug pressure is currently low, although we are constantly looking for any potential threat and as yet we haven’t seen any of the dreaded and much publicised flea beetle!

OSR Emerging In Colchester (2)

OSR emerging

Back to harvest, and OSR, which was all HEAR, produced an average yield at 3.7 t/ha but will provide us with the highest margin, due to being on a very good contract. Winter barley was very badly affected by rabbits and was therefore slightly disappointing, although it met all of the malting criteria.  Peas, beans and spring barley were again around average although the combine drivers were very glad to see the back of the peas!  The wheat produced the best crop we have for five or six years, but was back to a level which we used to think was more normal before the last few poorer harvests, and we have averaged 9.7 t/ha.

On the cultivation front, stale seedbeds are greening up very well after a shallow cultivation and roll after harvest, although some areas have been left for us to direct drill.  Some cover crops have been drilled with more to be drilled over the next few days and are mainly a mixture of oats and vetch.

The biggest challenge faced so far this year has been the dreaded data management involved with precision farming.  I have all of the individual field yields, but so far we haven’t been able to access the yield maps due to bugs on the USB’s, so this means analysing the data for the field scale trials that we have done is currently not possible.



Tom Bradshaw is a partner in his family farm and grows 1,485ha of combinable crops – malting barley, milling wheat, peas and beans - to the west of Colchester in Essex. Apart from a small area of owned land, the majority is farmed under contracting arrangements and includes a wide range of soil types. He has been involved in Recommended Lists trials, and appeared on the BBC Harvest programme in 2013. Tom was recently elected to the NFU combinable crops board.