Harvest 2021 has kicked off! It’s all systems go as farmers across the country race to get the crops in. The barley began in the third week of July, a full two weeks later than usual. According to the AHDB, the winter barley harvest was already 47% complete by 30th July. The oilseed rape harvest is 10% complete and, as the OSR prices have rocketed, the future is looking brighter. The wheat harvest is also looking later than usual (around the first/second week of August) but that shows a lot of promise too.
Despite the wet winter and dry April, the barley yields and quality look much better than expected. The wet, warm, sunny May and June have given the crops a growth spurt to bring them back in line.
Last year’s harvest was the worst in 20 years. Research from the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology showed that yields were down by 15% in 2020. They took yield data from 100 large British arable farms and compared it to the five-year average. The oilseed rape crop had the largest fall in yield (20%) while the winter wheat was down 15% and the winter barley dropped 10%. There was a variation across the different farm fields though – some individual fields were down by 66%!
Let’s hope the weather holds until all the crops are safely in!
Farmer Tom is currently combining his crops in Cambridgeshire. He's already finished with the winter wheat and has moved onto his oilseed rape. It's a race against the rain in his tractor with a top speed of 3mph!
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