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Winter barley harvest kicks off two weeks later than usual

Discover what our Managing Director, James Peck says about winter barley harvest this year with Emma from Farmers Weekly:

For James Peck of P.X. Farms based in Cambridgeshire, winter barley harvest usually starts during the first couple days in July, but this year’s slow-growing season meant he began cutting a good two weeks later than usual on July 16.

After a challenging season struggling to get cereals crops drilled into such wet autumn conditions, combined with the physical strains of lockdown, Mr Peck is relieved to see harvest now underway.

With 485ha of winter barley in the ground, crops are yielding well at 8.8t/ha, with moisture contents below 15% and a slightly lower specific weight of 61-62kg/hl.

Long view of combine and strip of harvested field

Currently, four combines are in operation and rather than using a traditional tractor and trailer, Mr Peck uses chaser bins and loading lorries equipped with 30t custom-built trailers to transport grain. This helps improve the efficiency of loading times and ensures the combines are not waiting to unload.

The variety Belfry makes up the majority of Mr Peck’s winter barley area this season, due to its good lodging resistance. After a significant area of the variety Bazooka fell flat the last harvest, only a small proportion of this was planted, with the remainder planted to Belfry.

All straw will be baled and has been pre-sold to either a local power station or beef farm, while the grain is sold to ADM.

“Next, we will have 20ha of oilseed rape to harvest, and we are planning to put more area to this next season if conditions allow. Meanwhile, winter wheat crops are still looking as green as grass, so it will be a little while yet before we think about harvesting them.”

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