Within the last few weeks, the UK has seen record breaking temperatures and record lows in rainfall. As such, these higher temperatures have brought forward much of this year’s harvest and combines have been able to make a flying start to the 2022 harvest season, with many farmers nearing completion.
As of Monday 15th August, AHDB reported the total GB harvest to be 63% complete. Winter wheat 65%, winter barley 100%, spring barley 23%, winter OSR 95% and total oats 35% harvested respectively.
The main challenge facing farmers over the last week has been how to cope with the increased storage demand caused by the fast harvest progress. Furthermore, grain usually requires drying post-harvest, however this season grain moistures are lower than normal. Some early harvest winter OSR moisture content was recorded at below 5% but has since increased to between 6-11% through spells of cooler temperatures after the first heatwave.
Although such weather allows for good harvest progress, it does have implications for crop yield, cereal quality and poultry feed formulations. Nutritionally, high temperatures can reduce moisture content and starch levels in cereal grains. Lower moisture contents directly affect crop yield as less water is present in the grain. Higher temperatures can accelerate grain filling rates; however, the duration of filling is reduced.
A lower moisture content improves the energy content of grain when using the World Poultry Science Association (WPSA) energy calculation. Although, it is yet to be seen if these early low moisture levels are representative of the whole harvest season.
These initial comments are based on a relatively small sample set, and therefore should be interpreted with a degree of caution. As we collect more data over the coming weeks, we will report further on these trends.