Why was 2015 just as good for yield as 2014?
The late harvest is finally showing signs of wrapping up.
The good weather over the last fortnight has allowed a lot of harvesting to be completed. Over 90pc of all cereals has been harvested in the south and south east, whereas in the northern half of the country over 80pc has been completed.
The main crops still to be harvested are spring wheat and beans. Yields and quality appear to have held well considering that the summer of 2015 has been wet.
Yet it was totally different from the summer of 2014, which also produced good yields, so it is difficult task to try to explain how yields appear to have even surpassed those of 2014.
In 2014 it was accepted that the good summer suited crops. However, this year saw a late cold spring followed by a relatively wet and poor summer. The late cold spring is no doubt responsible for the late harvest, but there was also a very long grain filling period which appears to have helped yields.
There was a lot of rain this summer. It was constant and obviously occurred at the right time. As a result there was probably a better release of residual soil nitrogen. The expected high disease levels, particularly wet weather diseases, such as septoria and rhynchosporium, never materialised which obviously has also helped yields.
While yields of over 5t of winter wheat, over 4t of winter barley and even 4t of spring barley were regularly achieved, there was plenty of variation, even on individual farms.
This is probably more concerning because it should be possible that all crops achieve similar yields with similar management.