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GUEST BLOG: EMMA FOOT | HARVEST SEASON

emma's dorset farming blog - Our Earliest Harvest on Record

Harvest blog

Well this is our earliest start on harvest on our record and this years harvest has certainly been different to last year! We had to dry most of our corn last year and we have not dried any corn as of yet and we only have about 100 acres left. Our oilseed rape is supposed to be between 6-9% moisture, but some of ours got too low; down to 5.6%, so we couldn’t harvest that until later in the evening when the moisture came up. Anything below 6% gets rejected and above 9% deductions are taken. Livestock farmers are really struggling around us as the grass is just dying and the maize isn’t looking too good.

One of the pictures displayed below show our cattle recently with very little grass as you can see and the other was taken 5 years ago when we had to rescue them with kayaks and tractors.

Tractor crossing river.

Cattle grazing on dry farmland.

We had a good amount of rainfall this weekend (41mm) which should help the grass grow. On Saturday we spread some chicken muck and drilled and rolled in some stubble turnips for our sheep over winter to fatten them up; so with all that rain they should have a good start. Up until this weekend we had 3mm in July and 5mm in June!

At the end of June we went to a straw sale, with the winter barley making around an average of £130 an acre; usually it is around £60. There has been a lot of fires around us and around the country due to the dry weather, combines have gone up, fields and straw and hay in barns. I posted a picture online of my 90 year old Gran combining as she still likes to be involved on the farm, BBC South then contacted me and Gran did an interview for them, and had over 180,000 views!

This is by far my favorite time of year, although it is a bit stressful at times. I just find it so satisfying harvesting the crops that have taken almost a year to grow and with a lot of hard work and effort it's nice to see how the crop has yielded. So far this harvest has been an absolute joy- not having to dry any grain, and I’ve been tipping it straight into our new grain store rather than last year- having to dry it then move it into the barns. This hot weather has saved us a lot of time and money not having to dry any corn. Last year we used 5,000 litres on just drying corn.

We’ve cut the winter barley, oilseed rape, and oats, and started on the spring barley and wheat, we started on the early drilled spring barley as it’s a malting variety so our hope is that this will make malting. Malting barley is worth more than feed barley as it needs to be of a higher quality. Our oats are sold for milling at a premium price. Once the grain is in the barn it is essential that it is cooled down, as once it is in the store it can heat up. The pedestals are placed in the grain, and a fan placed on top to ensure the grain is cooled evenly.  It is really important to cool the grain as it can decrease the germination on spring barley for malting and we aim to get the premium price. It takes a bit longer to cool in this warmer weather, so we put the fans on at night.  We want to achieve a temperature of 5 degrees centigrade or below; bugs can survive above 5 degrees and can hollow out the grain. The yields were down on our oilseed rape this year and spring barley (as of the late drilling dates with barley). The wheat is yielding very well and there is a large amount of straw, all of our straw this year was sold apart from the rape straw which we chopped. Our workman bales conventional bales for our customers to collect from the field, and some for ourselves to use and to sell to farm shops throughout the winter.

Below is a picture of me stood in the straw, as you can see there is a lot as its up to my knees!

female farmer stood in straw fields on farmland

Last Tuesday we had a Claas Tucano 570 combine on demonstration, this is a higher output than our current combine and it’s a rotary rather than a straw walker machine. I was busy on hauling for both combines, but luckily the field was close to the barns to be back in time.  

The combine below on the left is ours and the other is the 570 demonstrator.

Combine harvester and demonstrator working on farmland.

Thank you again for taking the time to have a read, if you have any questions please comment below.

Em x

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