Harvest update: Some combines dash to the field

Some combines managed to get out to fields on Sunday (August 23), and while conditions were far from ideal there was some drying which tillage farmers took advantage of.

However, many combines were cutting grain at high moisture contents simply to get deteriorating crops off the fields. This was where ground conditions were suitable as trafficability is now an issue in many places.

Crop condition was decreasing before Storm Ellen hit last week, but the heavy rain the storm brought caused crop condition to deteriorate further.

Heads and grain have fallen to the ground. Crops are sprouting. Fields of grain are tossed and crops have lodged in some cases.

With more heavy rain expected in yellow and orange rainfall warnings from tonight (Monday, August 24), the few hours of weather on Sunday were welcome and some combine operators are also trying to cut today, despite the less than ideal weather.

Reports to AgriLand on moisture contents are ranging from 17% to 26% in both wheat and barley.

Also Read: Harvest weather causing serious problems for tillage farmers

Cutting at high moisture contents results in increased drying costs which are taken away from the base price being paid for that grain.

The base price is paid at 20% moisture content – so farmers with grain below 20% moisture content will be rewarded (providing grain quality is good otherwise) and farmers with grain above 20% moisture content will be penalised.

Quality is also affected and malting barley is proving difficult for most, but the focus is now on getting crops cut whenever the opportunity presents itself.

It’s important to note that this season over 140,000ha of spring barley were planted, as well as approximately 46,000ha of winter and spring wheat and almost 17,000ha of spring oats. The vast majority of cereal crops are still to be cut as well as beans and oilseed rape in the coming weeks.

While it may be a stressful time for farmers, remember that the majority of the harvest is still to be cut and most tillage farmers are in the same boat.