To turn or not to turn

By Alex Robinson 21st April 2016

Harvest 2016 is not without its challenges, and it isn’t over yet – in many cases it hasn’t started. We’ve seen a lot of rainfall this spring, and there’s been no chance to bale. Some of our growers have cane in the swath that’s not completely dry, and the window for baling is rapidly closing as new shoots begin to emerge.

Turning (never raking) can help the drying process, but it can also ruin the quality potential of your crop, and should therefore only be done when necessary, and with caution.

You should never attempt to rake the ground litter into the swath – ground litter is wet and can contain stones and grit, all of which lead to rejection at a pelleting plant.

Turning is useful in the following circumstances:

  • In wet ground conditions following a wet spring, where the bottom of the swath is lying damp
  • Where the swath has been cut green it’s been lying for a long time so and has flattened. Turning will ‘fluff up’ the swath and allow air through, to enable final drying

Ultimately, turning is best done on the advice of your baling contractor. Our contractors are experts in harvesting miscanthus, so ensure you always communicate effectively with your contractor, and listen to their advice.

You can also refer to our ‘Essential Growers Guide’ for best practice guidance.

The guide includes the following recommendations to ensure that any potential problem areas are avoided:

Harvesting:

  • Start harvesting as soon as the ground allows. This means as soon as the ground is dry
  • Leave the cut crop in the swath for long enough to enable the sap to dry out
  • Aim for moisture content of 16% or less for ideal pelleting feedstock
  • Ensure that swath contains minimal leaves, and that that cane is not cut onto wet ground
  • Growers are advised not to worry about rain on the swathed crop. This anxiety risks a decision to bale before the crop is ready

Turning:

  • Turning the crop can even out the moisture and minimise the chances of clumping and patchy bales
  • Ideally, turn the swath hours before baling on a day with a fine forecast. This alleviates the risk of having to re-turn the swath if it’s rained on again
  • Preferably, turning should be kept to a minimum, and only carried out if required
  • It is advisable to cost and plan turning the swath each year, ahead of harvest. Reducing the need to turn means reduced harvest costs

And as a reminder to growers, all harvest declarations are going to be web-based, so rather than filling out a piece of paper and posting it, we’re streamlining the process. We’ve sent personal harvest declaration details via e-mail.

And there’s one big difference in the information required – we’d like you to declare your harvest data by stack.

For more information on filling out your harvest declaration click here.

If you have any questions please get in touch t: 01522 731873 or e: alexr@terravesta.com

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