Bumper wheat crop in St Albans

PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 September 2011

St Albans farmer Bill Barr with 2,000 tonnes of wheat grain.

St Albans farmer Bill Barr with 2,000 tonnes of wheat grain.

Archant

Flour from St Albans wheat used in range of products

THE next time you bite into a biscuit or cake, chances are that a key ingredient - flour - could have come from wheat grown in St Albans.

Some of the wheat harvested this month at Bill Barr’s farm in St Albans has been sold to Bowmans in Hitchin, whose products are also used in cereals, pies and noodles.

A bumper wheat yield has delighted Bill, who was quoted in the Herts Advertiser in May fearing that one of the driest spring seasons in decades would have a detrimental impact on wheat, linseed, oats and oilseed rape crops at Dane End Farm.

However, recent continuous rain has resulted in a five per cent increase in Bill’s wheat yield. His oilseed rape crop has also been better than average, but the beans and barley did not recover from the long dry spell in spring.

Bill said: “We were very concerned. I don’t think anyone can believe how nature has turned around our fortunes, but there are people with lighter soils who have had a mediocre harvest. It all hinges on the type of soil. There are farms on the other side of St Albans with light, sandy, gravelly soil who had less than average yield. Ours is heavy and clay-based, which has saved our bacon.”

He added: “We had rain in June and July which swelled the [wheat] grain, so they are big and fat.”

Unfortunately he has had to dry 2,000 tonnes of grain artificially as the wet summer meant a lack of sunshine to dry it naturally.

Merchants will now test the grain for quality before offering a price for it. The grain will stay stored until May next year.

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