Cereals: The Seeds of Life Harvest


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Cereals: The Seeds of Life

Gregg Wallace and Philippa Forrester visit a classic arable farm in the east of England at the start of the frantic wheat harvest.


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Across the country the race is on to bring in our food. It's Harvest

:00:07.:00:14.

time! Gathering in the bounty of the land, is the most crucial event in

:00:14.:00:18.

the countryside calendar And now, as this year's harvest reaches its

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climax. It's time to see exactly what's happening with all our crops.

:00:22.:00:26.

Seeds of life to sustain us. Fresh vegetables pulled from the earth.

:00:26.:00:35.

Fruit that's our sweet treat. All conjured up from Mother Nature.

:00:35.:00:40.

We'll be discovering the remarkable craft, and magic of farming. And

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finding out just where our food comes from. No matter how clever

:00:44.:00:49.

farming becomes, our crops are still at the mercy of the weather.

:00:49.:00:53.

Harvest 2012 was a disaster. After record summer rainfall, crops failed

:00:53.:00:57.

and prices spiralled. Can 2013 put our farmers back on

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track to deliver the food we all rely on? As the harvest comes in we

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will reveal the results. This time we're looking at our

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cereals, the seeds of life. This is wheat, and it feeds the world. But

:01:23.:01:26.

have our farmers grown enough for us? Welcome to Harvest 2013!

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We are in the last flush of summer. Harvest is happening all around. I'm

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Gregg Wallace, greengrocer by trade. This is by far my favourite season

:02:01.:02:05.

of the year. No better time to explore the business behind getting

:02:05.:02:11.

great food on our plates. I'm Philippa Forrester. I'm particularly

:02:11.:02:14.

interested in the quality of our food that we buy. But also because

:02:14.:02:19.

I've grown my own for so many years, I'm fascinated by how these guys do

:02:19.:02:30.

it on such a massive scale. We're here at a classic arable farm in

:02:30.:02:34.

Essex. For a year we've been following the wheat crop from

:02:34.:02:37.

planting right through to harvest. And right now we're going to see

:02:37.:02:40.

what it takes to bring in these crucial grains - to give us our

:02:40.:02:44.

daily bread. We'll also find out about other valuable cereal crops

:02:44.:02:50.

across the country. Rapeseed is famous for its striking yellow

:02:50.:02:53.

flowers. But what are the secrets of its tiny dark seeds? How are golden

:02:53.:02:58.

fields of barley and their precious grains turned into whisky? And food

:02:58.:03:05.

expert Stefan Gates will unpack the science behind how our crops are

:03:05.:03:13.

grown. Out there somewhere is our farmer working nonstop to get his

:03:14.:03:15.

crop in. Let's go and meet Tom. On days when the sun's shining

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there's no better place to be, and I never struggle to find the

:03:27.:03:30.

motivation to get out of bed Tom Bradshaw took a bold decision when

:03:30.:03:33.

he started to run the family farm. He gambled its future, selling the

:03:33.:03:36.

livestock to risk everything on growing crops. You just can't

:03:36.:03:43.

imagine, if somebody had said 20 years ago this what we'd be doing

:03:43.:03:47.

now there's not a chance I'd have believed them. To secure the

:03:47.:03:49.

family's future, Tom turned to growing wheat and mixed grains.

:03:49.:03:54.

Success rested on the quality of their soil, so Tom dug deep into the

:03:54.:04:01.

science. I applied for a scholarship, and got the opportunity

:04:01.:04:04.

to research what was happening in our soils and then I went off around

:04:04.:04:08.

the world and saw hundreds of different farmers, and learnt a huge

:04:08.:04:16.

amount. Everything we eat comes from the soil. Without a really healthy,

:04:16.:04:19.

living soil system, then we can't produce the food that we rely on to

:04:19.:04:23.

survive. It is the centre of life on earth. We want to be the people in

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the area that are recognised for doing the job better than anyone

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else. Everyone is sort of buzzing around the start of harvest and

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we're really looking forward to the hard work and the results from the

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previous year. Well, Tom, we appreciate that this

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is absolutely your most busy time, the wheat harvest. So thank you very

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much for having us here, cluttering up your farm. How's it going? Well,

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we're in the beginning of the harvest here on this farm and we're

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waiting to see what the quality and what the quantity is like. So it's

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really early days because we can look at the grain and it looks OK,

:05:04.:05:08.

but until we have it tested we don't know what it's going to be used for.

:05:08.:05:12.

If it doesn't meet the grade and it's not high enough protein, then

:05:12.:05:16.

actually what ends up is this goes to chickens or pigs, and it's worth

:05:16.:05:20.

a lot less as animal feed than it is as bread wheat. Oh! We didn't have a

:05:20.:05:25.

very good spring did we, we had a really cold spring, we had a

:05:25.:05:28.

disastrous last year. I mean, if you think back to the spring of last

:05:28.:05:32.

year we had the wettest year on record. And it was just awful. But

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more importantly than that we didn't have any sunshine, and crops just

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cannot grow without sunshine. But it means that this harvest is actually

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really important. This harvest is critical for many farmers, because

:05:41.:05:45.

large parts of the country had a terrible time last year and then

:05:45.:05:48.

we've had a really challenging autumn, some farmers are desperately

:05:48.:05:51.

trying to keep their foot in the door and what we need to know now is

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A, what the yields are, B, what the quality is and C, what the prices

:05:56.:06:00.

are. Are we going to have wheat good enough here to bake some really good

:06:00.:06:03.

bread? Let's hope so.So this harvest is all about wheat. But how

:06:03.:06:07.

did wheat become so fundamental to our diet? Meet the wheat. Some

:06:07.:06:10.

10,000 years ago wild strains of this grass, cultivated in the Middle

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East, gave birth to farming. Hidden this grass, cultivated in the Middle

:06:12.:06:16.

in the wheat-head are the tiny grains we eat. They contain a rich

:06:16.:06:18.

core of protein and carbohydrate - the energy store to grow a new

:06:18.:06:22.

plant. Now it's the staple food for over a third of the human race.

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Wheat covers more of the earth's surface than any other crop. Britain

:06:26.:06:33.

has an excellent climate for growing wheat. The south of England was once

:06:33.:06:40.

a breadbasket for the Roman Empire. In 1981, Britain set the world

:06:40.:06:44.

record for wheat yield from a single field. Will harvest 2013 break the

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current record, now held by New Zealand?

:06:50.:06:54.

I love that, the story of wheat and the story of western civilization so

:06:54.:07:01.

closely entwined. And my new friends at Rothamstead Research, look what

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they've given us. 10,000 years of wheat history. And that wheat

:07:04.:07:11.

history, well, that's our history. And the one that fascinates me the

:07:11.:07:15.

most is this one here, at the point when we stopped being hunter

:07:15.:07:17.

gatherers and we started being farmers. This is what we would have

:07:17.:07:22.

grown. And when we started to grow our own foods like this, well,

:07:22.:07:24.

Western civilization, it just blossomed. Wild wheat plants still

:07:24.:07:31.

grow today in the Middle East. Using their seeds, and cultivated wheat

:07:31.:07:33.

preserved for hundreds of years, the scientists at Rothamsted have grown

:07:33.:07:39.

this amazing timeline. Over thousands of years our ancestors

:07:39.:07:42.

selected bigger wheat plants with more, and fatter grains. But by the

:07:42.:07:48.

1950s we had reached the limit. The wheat heads were so heavy they were

:07:48.:07:53.

easily flattened by wind and rain. Farmers now needed plants with

:07:53.:07:58.

shorter, stronger stems. Modern wheat, little short stems, and nice

:07:58.:08:04.

big fat juicy heads. But that plant there, bears very little resemblance

:08:04.:08:07.

to the one we started off with 10,000 years ago. I like to think of

:08:07.:08:15.

the Romans, growing wheat here in Essex as they did 2,000 years ago,

:08:15.:08:18.

and the problems that they faced back then are very similar to the

:08:18.:08:22.

problems our Tom faces now. Now he should have been planting out last

:08:22.:08:26.

autumn but the weather back then was terrible. Let's see how he got on.

:08:26.:08:35.

The wettest summer for a century had left wheat fields looking like

:08:35.:08:40.

swimming pools. By early October, Tom still hadn't sown any of his

:08:40.:08:45.

wheat crop. But a rare break in the weather gave him the opportunity

:08:46.:08:51.

he'd been desperately waiting for. So we start off with a little wheat

:08:51.:08:55.

seed here. This sort of reddy colour because they've all had fungicide

:08:55.:08:58.

applied to them. So this tries to keep the plant in healthy condition

:08:58.:09:02.

right the way from day one. On the back of the tractor here we've got

:09:02.:09:06.

our seed drill. We've got the main hopper here which holds about a

:09:06.:09:09.

tonne of seed. So we drop the seed into the top of the hopper, the

:09:09.:09:13.

seeds are then blown down these pipes here and as it comes down

:09:13.:09:17.

these pipes, the tyne at the front here makes a groove and the seed is

:09:17.:09:21.

then dropped down in the trench behind the tyne

:09:21.:09:23.

then dropped down in the trench we've got a levelling harrow which

:09:23.:09:26.

just levels everything off and just makes sure that the seed is all

:09:26.:09:29.

buried. This is one of most important days in the crop's life.

:09:29.:09:31.

If this goes wrong at this stage important days in the crop's life.

:09:31.:09:34.

then really there's nothing we can do for the rest of the season.

:09:35.:09:37.

Making the most of the decent do for the rest of the season.

:09:37.:09:40.

weather, and with the success of his 2013 harvest at stake, Tom started

:09:40.:09:44.

his seeds on the beginning of their remarkable journey. Stefan Gates has

:09:44.:09:56.

been exploring the nature of these little embryonic marvels.

:09:56.:10:03.

Seeds are nature's way of ensuring that plants survive into the next

:10:03.:10:07.

generation. But what exactly is a seed?

:10:08.:10:14.

Seeds come in lots of different shapes and sizes, but within every

:10:14.:10:19.

single one of them, new life has already been created. This is a

:10:19.:10:30.

broad bean pod. If I Open it up, you find these. Now these beans are all

:10:30.:10:34.

actually little seeds. If I cut Open the protective coating and take a

:10:34.:10:35.

look inside... This little bit up here is the

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embryo: it contains all the genetic information the seed needs to become

:10:44.:10:50.

an adult plant. All the rest of the bean is the endosperm, it's a

:10:50.:10:53.

package of energy to support it on the first stage of its journey.

:10:53.:10:58.

Given a very precise combination of the right temperature, and enough

:10:58.:11:03.

water, the seed will germinate and the plant start to push up in search

:11:03.:11:09.

of sunlight. Each bean contains about one calorie: the energy it

:11:09.:11:15.

requires to reach the surface. Under optimum conditions, it can grow at a

:11:15.:11:18.

staggering rate of three centimetres a day. It's the energy in the seeds

:11:18.:11:26.

that we're after - in wheat it's stored as carbohydrate. Dark brown

:11:26.:11:30.

rapeseeds contain edible oil, and that's their energy store,

:11:30.:11:33.

concentrated inside a tiny package, even smaller than wheat. Take a

:11:33.:11:43.

handful of seeds to a desert island, and you should be able to feed

:11:43.:11:47.

yourself forever more. Because all that's needed to start growing

:11:47.:11:50.

something this tiny, into something this huge, is water, warmth, and

:11:50.:11:52.

sunlight. By the end of November last year,

:11:52.:12:04.

the seeds Tom had sown five weeks ago were just beginning to emerge.

:12:04.:12:07.

But with the awful weather he still hadn't managed to plant enough wheat

:12:07.:12:11.

for his harvest. By the big freeze in January this year, he was

:12:11.:12:18.

seriously worried. We've had tonnes of rain falling on this field.

:12:18.:12:23.

People think about millimetres and inches, but every raindrop that's

:12:23.:12:26.

fallen on this field, over the size we've got here is tonnes of rain. As

:12:26.:12:30.

they fall on the ground, every raindrop gradually pounded it down

:12:30.:12:34.

and we end up with the soil being compacted. These fields are

:12:34.:12:38.

saturated, they're really wet. The only reason we're able to plough at

:12:38.:12:41.

the moment is because it's been really cold, minus eight, minus nine

:12:41.:12:43.

the moment is because it's been last night and it means that the

:12:43.:12:46.

frost in the surface can take the weight of the machinery. Without

:12:47.:12:50.

that we wouldn't be able to move, and as soon as the frost lifts we're

:12:50.:12:54.

not going to be able to do anything, so thankfully while the frost is

:12:54.:12:58.

here we're able to get some work done. Ploughing might seem like good

:12:58.:13:02.

news, but not for Tom. Usually he injects his seeds directly into the

:13:02.:13:05.

soil, without the need to plough at all. He treats his soil as a living

:13:05.:13:09.

ecosystem, full of worms and helpful bacteria, but he had to plough them

:13:09.:13:15.

up. It was the only way to get air back into the compacted sodden soil

:13:15.:13:19.

and give him a chance to get the rest of his wheat seeds planted. We

:13:19.:13:25.

haven't ploughed in this field for eight years and it was a really

:13:25.:13:28.

tough decision. It's something that goes against our morals and the way

:13:28.:13:32.

we're trying to head. We've been working with nature, trying to build

:13:32.:13:35.

up the organic matters, encouraging the earth worms and trying to get

:13:35.:13:38.

everything working for us and suddenly you come in here now and

:13:38.:13:43.

undo a lot of good work very quickly. But it's just what we had

:13:43.:13:56.

to do to try and salvage something. I can kind of understand you being

:13:56.:13:59.

passionate about soil as a gardener and we're told all different ways of

:13:59.:14:03.

managing it, you know, one minute you're meant to dig deep, the next

:14:03.:14:07.

minute you're not meant to dig at all. But I never really thought

:14:07.:14:10.

about it in relation to farming. I mean the soil for us in fundamental

:14:10.:14:14.

to everything we produce. It is absolutely at the core of what we're

:14:14.:14:16.

doing and unless we look after it absolutely at the core of what we're

:14:16.:14:19.

and treat it as a special habitat that it is, we can't expect to

:14:20.:14:23.

produce the best crops. It's an organic thing, isn't it? This is

:14:23.:14:26.

alive, it's full of bugs. There's billions of bacteria in here and we

:14:26.:14:30.

need to let them thrive, and feed them and make sure they've got the

:14:30.:14:34.

correct nutrition, just like you and I need to eat. The soil needs

:14:34.:14:38.

feeding as well and if we look after this, then everything above it looks

:14:38.:14:41.

after itself. It saves us having to put a lot of the artificial

:14:41.:14:43.

fertilisers on because they're all put a lot of the artificial

:14:43.:14:46.

contained in here. So how do you manage your soil that's different

:14:46.:14:50.

from the way most farmers might do? We treat every area of this field

:14:50.:14:53.

separately. So we have it all zoned so if we go onto the map here you

:14:53.:14:58.

can see that on the map is all these different colours around the field

:14:58.:15:00.

can see that on the map is all these and that's because every area that's

:15:00.:15:02.

a different colour needs managing differently because when we test it

:15:02.:15:06.

it's got specific things that need managing separately to the other

:15:06.:15:09.

areas in the field. So some areas I can see are rich in some minerals

:15:09.:15:13.

and some areas are more acid than alkaline, and you're managing each

:15:13.:15:16.

field, and each area of each field for that. Exactly that. As we drive

:15:16.:15:20.

across the field, every area is given specific applications to

:15:20.:15:22.

across the field, every area is that area up to the rest of the

:15:22.:15:26.

field. So you really do take it to an extreme We have to, cause that's

:15:26.:15:29.

how we unlock the potential in these fields. Tom's wheat fields are

:15:29.:15:33.

golden now, but to get here it's been a constant battle with the

:15:33.:15:36.

elements. He'd ploughed his fields in January to plant the remaining

:15:36.:15:39.

wheat, but by April things still weren't looking good. So we're

:15:39.:15:42.

wondering what's happening in this field which has been planted for

:15:42.:15:45.

five weeks and I think it's all down to the soil temperature. We'd

:15:45.:15:48.

normally expect there to be 2-3 inches of growth by now. Here we can

:15:48.:15:52.

see that it's below two degrees which is seven degrees lower than we

:15:52.:15:56.

would normal expect at this time of year and explains why things have

:15:56.:16:00.

been very, very slow to grow. If you plant into cold soils, it means that

:16:00.:16:04.

things are going to be very slow to germinate and very slow to take off.

:16:04.:16:08.

Once we start digging you can just begin to see the shoots which have

:16:08.:16:12.

come up from the seeds and are just about to break the surface. Now when

:16:12.:16:16.

it does warm up, hopefully it will grow very quickly and within a few

:16:16.:16:19.

weeks it should be a lovely lush green field After an exceptionally

:16:19.:16:22.

chilly start to the spring, green shoots of hope finally started to

:16:22.:16:26.

appear, but they were much later than usual. And now the next threat

:16:26.:16:29.

emerged. The shoots now are vulnerable to pest attack, I mean

:16:29.:16:32.

rabbits, hares, geese. They can all come in and graze the crop off. But

:16:32.:16:36.

because the soils now warmed up, they're beginning to grow really

:16:36.:16:39.

quickly and actually they'll rapidly grow from underneath it. Probably

:16:39.:16:42.

the biggest threat to this crop conditions turning dry. Because

:16:42.:16:45.

there's no root structure then it's really susceptible to having a

:16:45.:16:48.

problem with dry conditions in May and June. So Tom was pinning his

:16:48.:16:52.

hopes on a wet spell during the summer.

:16:52.:16:54.

Right now, Tom's harvest is in full swing, and it won't be long before

:16:54.:17:00.

he finally learns how his crop has done. But there's no time to take

:17:00.:17:06.

stock. He might be in the middle of harvesting his wheat, but the

:17:06.:17:09.

weather also provides a golden opportunity to start sowing his oil

:17:09.:17:13.

seed rape for next year's harvest. While the sun shines, and his fields

:17:13.:17:17.

are dry, he can plant it straight into the wheat stubble without the

:17:17.:17:23.

need to plough. These little beauties here, these are rape seeds,

:17:23.:17:27.

aren't they? That's what rape crop grows up from. The yellow flowers in

:17:27.:17:30.

the spring, all come from that. Forgive me but are they supposed to

:17:30.:17:34.

be bright purple? No, when we harvest them they're black but

:17:34.:17:37.

that's just a treatment to stop the insects and stuff eating the crop so

:17:37.:17:41.

we don't have to spray anything on it. Forgive me, Tom, but you haven't

:17:41.:17:44.

even finished harvesting the wheat yet and you're thinking about

:17:44.:17:46.

even finished harvesting the wheat another harvest for next year.

:17:46.:17:48.

even finished harvesting the wheat mean, it's all about logistics and

:17:48.:17:51.

the more we can get done at this time of year the better the

:17:51.:17:54.

prospects are for next year. Is that right? And that is your dad working

:17:54.:17:58.

on there is that right? It is, yeah. Did you flip a coin as to who was

:17:58.:18:03.

going to drive the tractor and who was going to talk to me? Nah, he

:18:03.:18:07.

prefers to be on the tractor and out of the limelight. You probably don't

:18:07.:18:10.

recognise the seeds, but you definitely would recognise the crop

:18:10.:18:13.

- it's what turns our fields that bright beautiful yellow. In spring

:18:13.:18:16.

our countryside is transformed by a sunburst of yellow. Oil seed rape in

:18:16.:18:20.

bloom. British production of this relative of the cabbage, has doubled

:18:20.:18:23.

in the past ten years. And it's all because of a rich secret at the

:18:23.:18:30.

heart of its flowers. If we pull the petals off, we've got that green

:18:30.:18:34.

pod, and if we cut one open we can see inside what we'll be harvesting

:18:34.:18:38.

later on in the year. Once we come to harvest, the white seeds will be

:18:38.:18:42.

black. The pods will be two and a half inches long. And there'll

:18:42.:18:45.

probably be 40 or 50 seeds inside each of the pods. And it's these

:18:45.:18:48.

precious black seeds we're after. They're packed full of oil and

:18:48.:18:51.

protein, which is used to make bio-diesel, animal feed, and a

:18:51.:18:58.

wonderful golden cooking oil. You're planting rape seed right now, which

:18:58.:19:01.

is a product that I really, really like. How did it perform for you

:19:01.:19:05.

this year? It was a pretty challenging year for us with the

:19:05.:19:08.

rape seed. We've only ended up actually harvesting about a third of

:19:08.:19:11.

what we drilled last year just because of the challenges we've

:19:11.:19:15.

faced with the really wet autumn, cold winter and spring, and so a lot

:19:15.:19:19.

of the rape seed actually failed. What we've harvested's been OK but

:19:19.:19:23.

we pulled a lot up and drilled it with oats and different crops. So

:19:23.:19:26.

what you got up was all right, but how much did you say you lost? About

:19:26.:19:30.

2/3rd of the crop. You're kidding me? I mean I know it's early days

:19:30.:19:34.

now and you've only just planted it out, but when will you see some

:19:34.:19:38.

life? When will it germinate? Erm? we'll look for that in about a

:19:38.:19:42.

fortnight's time. This time of year soils are really warm, there's a lot

:19:42.:19:45.

of moisture there. Great conditions now to be planting rape seed in. So

:19:45.:19:49.

you are feeling a bit more positive? This is perfect conditions at the

:19:49.:19:52.

moment, we're really pleased. And rape seed oil is a tricky plant, I

:19:52.:19:56.

mean, as soon as it's ready it's got to be harvested and you've already

:19:56.:20:00.

done yours here in Essex. So we went up to Scotland where they harvest

:20:00.:20:04.

theirs a week or so later. At his farm in the Tweed Valley, Colin

:20:04.:20:07.

McGregor is preparing to harvest his crop of oil seed rape. I'm the third

:20:07.:20:11.

generation on this farm. Family came here in 1927, 86 years ago. This is

:20:11.:20:21.

my 25th harvest. We're used to seeing our fields of oil seed rape

:20:21.:20:25.

awash with colour. But to get at the seeds within the pods, the plants

:20:25.:20:30.

have to be dried out. We spray the crop with a dessicant and that kills

:20:30.:20:34.

the green area on the crop, cos if the crop's green it's very difficult

:20:34.:20:38.

to harvest. It takes around three weeks for the rapeseed to dry out.

:20:38.:20:46.

If the rapeseed is too wet, it will clog up the combines. Too dry, and

:20:46.:20:50.

the seeds will scatter in the fields. So Colin needs to test the

:20:50.:20:54.

moisture content. When it's dry enough, the reading should be close

:20:54.:21:00.

to 10%. We've got a reading of 12.7%. So another couple of hours,

:21:00.:21:06.

get a breeze, bit of sunshine up, combines'll be ready and we'll give

:21:06.:21:08.

it a go. Yeah, we'll come and get a sample in

:21:08.:21:23.

a minute. If Adam and Harry are listening let's access it through

:21:23.:21:25.

the bottlenecks of the pond. With such a short window of opportunity,

:21:26.:21:29.

Colin must run his harvest like a military operation. And that means

:21:29.:21:32.

co-ordinating all three combines at once.

:21:32.:21:37.

There's a thousand acres to get through, but the team can clear over

:21:37.:21:57.

ten acres an hour. I love the pressure of being busy and when it

:21:57.:22:01.

all stops in a few weeks' time, then I'm sort of wondering what to do.

:22:01.:22:06.

And there you are - the finished article, rape seed oil. And I am a

:22:06.:22:10.

huge fan. From this lovely black stuff, to that. And I tell you why

:22:10.:22:16.

I'm a massive fan and I know you use it. It's because it's a local

:22:16.:22:19.

product and it's actually healthier than olive oil, it's got much less

:22:19.:22:22.

saturated fat AND it fries at a really high temperature. So those

:22:23.:22:26.

people who like fried food, like me, and the rest of Great Britain, this

:22:26.:22:30.

is healthier to fry with and it's local and I love it. So I've used it

:22:30.:22:32.

for cooking, but I've never, I mean local and I love it. So I've used it

:22:32.:22:36.

this is cold pressed isn't it. This is cold pressed, this is the finest

:22:36.:22:38.

stuff. You can cook is cold pressed, this is the finest

:22:38.:22:42.

you can also use this for salad dressings. I've never done anything

:22:42.:22:45.

like that. Can you see the different colours, look at the different

:22:45.:22:48.

variation in colours Is that like olive oil when you've got a

:22:48.:22:50.

variation in colours Is that like taste and a milder taste? No. No,

:22:50.:22:53.

no, no. But they will taste different but that's just because of

:22:53.:22:57.

where they're grown, not just because of the colour? That's right.

:22:57.:23:00.

OK That's absolutely right. See I've never tasted it like this before.

:23:00.:23:03.

You've always used it for cooking? Yeah. Do you want to start with the

:23:03.:23:07.

light one? And tell me what you taste. Light, I do taste light.It's

:23:07.:23:10.

very light. Not much flavour. Doesn't feel oily. Maybe it's a

:23:10.:23:14.

little floral? Try this one, because they darkness doesn't make it

:23:14.:23:17.

stronger, it makes it different. That's really nice! Yeah, I get nuts

:23:17.:23:24.

there. That's completely different again. And a little bits of citrus.

:23:24.:23:31.

And we know that this is a really important crop for farmers like Tom.

:23:31.:23:35.

But for Tom at the minute, the wheat is taking all his time and

:23:35.:23:37.

concentration, because harvesting that wheat is a round the clock

:23:37.:23:44.

operation. After last year's wash-out, Tom's making the most of

:23:44.:23:48.

every dry moment - when the sun shines,and when it doesn't.

:23:48.:23:50.

With the weather being so good right now, they're harvesting night and

:23:50.:23:55.

day, but what will the wheat quality be like? That worry's been keeping

:23:55.:23:58.

Tom awake since the start of summer. This year's run of good weather is

:23:58.:24:27.

making harvesting easier for Tom, but the quality of what he's

:24:27.:24:30.

bringing in was shaped several months ago.

:24:30.:24:38.

Back in early June, Tom's wheat was still green. It was a crucial time

:24:38.:24:48.

for the plants' health. So I paid a visit. So, this is what it's all

:24:48.:24:54.

about. These are the wheat seeds forming, growing, and these are what

:24:54.:24:57.

Tom is hoping to harvest in about two months time. But in order for

:24:57.:25:02.

this plant to plump out these seeds, it needs to be healthy. And Tom

:25:02.:25:06.

needs 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of them.

:25:06.:25:09.

Eric Ober has been working with cereal crops for 27 years. He's

:25:09.:25:23.

something of a wheat doctor. First up, the Beam Fractionator and its

:25:23.:25:28.

sci-fi companion. This is the other half of it. The Lightsabre, yes! So

:25:28.:25:37.

what do I do with this then, Jedi Master? If you put that on the soil

:25:37.:25:41.

underneath the canopy and that will be measuring how much light is

:25:42.:25:45.

managing to get through the canopy. So what's the result? 95% of the

:25:45.:25:48.

light is being intercepted, so that's good.

:25:48.:25:56.

Two months before Harvest, Tom was relieved his wheat was soaking up so

:25:56.:26:01.

much sun. But what exactly does a plant do with sunlight? Stefan Gates

:26:01.:26:12.

has been exploring. In order to grow, all plants have to pull off

:26:12.:26:16.

the same incredible trick: they transfer sunlight, water and Carbon

:26:16.:26:27.

Dioxide gas into solid matter. This amazing growth process, known as

:26:27.:26:29.

Photosynthesis, is powered by the energy in sunlight. During

:26:29.:26:34.

photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide, but they release oxygen,

:26:34.:26:38.

the oxygen we all rely on to breathe.

:26:38.:26:42.

Normally it's invisible. However, there is a way in which we can see

:26:42.:26:48.

photosynthesis actually happening. All it takes is a lamp and some

:26:48.:26:50.

aquatic plants. If you look underwater,

:26:50.:26:56.

photosynthesis is happening right now. Light enters the green

:26:56.:27:01.

chlorophyll in plant cells where it reacts with carbon dioxide and

:27:01.:27:07.

water, to make sugar. The waste product is oxygen which is being

:27:07.:27:12.

released as these tiny bubbles. If I move the light further away, the

:27:12.:27:15.

bubbles slow down. Move it closer, the bubbles speed up.

:27:15.:27:27.

Using photosynthesis, crops convert the sun's energy into energy stored

:27:27.:27:31.

in their grains, and that's the food energy we harvest.

:27:31.:27:37.

So farmers say they're 'harvesting sunlight'. But be careful what you

:27:37.:27:45.

wish for - too much sun and not enough rain and crops won't have

:27:45.:27:47.

sufficient water for good growth. enough rain and crops won't have

:27:47.:27:49.

It's all in the balance. So back in June, was Tom's wheat

:27:49.:27:58.

getting a healthy balance of sun and water? A thermal imaging camera

:27:58.:28:01.

showed hotspots in the crop. There's a lot of crop that's blue,

:28:01.:28:14.

that that means the canopy is cool and there's plenty of moisture

:28:14.:28:17.

moving through the crop. But there's also spots in the field that are a

:28:17.:28:20.

lot warmer. And that suggests that the roots aren't able to get enough

:28:20.:28:24.

moisture. Red signalled danger for Tom's harvest. His wheat could be

:28:24.:28:28.

too dry for the grains to fill out. The plants needed water. If the dry

:28:28.:28:33.

summer continued, they'd be at the mercy of how much moisture was left

:28:33.:28:40.

in the soil. So now you've dug it up, what can you see? You just get

:28:40.:28:45.

so much chance to see what's happening with the roots, and that's

:28:45.:28:48.

what we're really worried about, it's trying to see what's happening

:28:48.:28:52.

inside here. We can see that we've probably got ten inches of soil, 12

:28:52.:28:56.

inches of soil, and the roots are growing through the bottom of it.

:28:56.:28:58.

They've been able to access the moisture and the nutrients. But it

:28:58.:29:02.

was still two months to harvest, and a crucial time when the wheat grains

:29:02.:29:06.

had to fill out. We need plenty of sunshine through June and July but

:29:06.:29:09.

we're also going to need moisture. We can see that there's not a lot of

:29:09.:29:14.

moisture left in this soil. And we want to keep everyone happy, so sun

:29:14.:29:17.

during the day, rainfall at night, and it could be a bumper harvest.

:29:17.:29:21.

After an awful start to the year, Tom was finally optimistic his crop

:29:21.:29:25.

might come good. All he needed was a typical British summer, with plenty

:29:25.:29:28.

of rain. But a few weeks later, in mid July, we were basking in the

:29:28.:29:32.

longest heatwave this century. Was it too much sun, too early in the

:29:32.:29:35.

season, for our wheat farmers? Tom was anxious for rain. Yesterday we

:29:35.:29:48.

went over 30 degrees, it was the hottest day of the year. We've had

:29:48.:29:53.

plenty of sunshine but we haven't had enough moisture and the crops in

:29:53.:29:57.

the field are now really beginning to struggle. It's just too hot for

:29:57.:30:03.

the plant. The plant on the left was taken from some really good soil

:30:03.:30:06.

that can store moisture. This one on the right was taken from the gravel

:30:07.:30:10.

soils where it's not able to store the same amount of moisture. And you

:30:10.:30:14.

can see the colour difference, with these being a sort of light green,

:30:14.:30:17.

strawy colour compared to the dark green colour on this side. So these

:30:17.:30:21.

ones which are visibly still green have still got lots of moisture

:30:21.:30:25.

inside them, and as we squeeze them you should be able to see lots of

:30:25.:30:29.

moisture and they're sort of only at a milky ripe stage. This is from the

:30:29.:30:40.

area of the field which is dying down, where the lack of moisture and

:30:40.:30:44.

the extreme heat from the sun is causing it to die early. And you can

:30:44.:30:48.

just see as we squeeze it, generally there's a lot less moisture. We

:30:48.:30:52.

refer to this one as dying off because it's prematurely ripening,

:30:52.:30:54.

whereas this one is still thriving and still able to photosynthesise

:30:54.:30:58.

through the green leaves. So we're seeing the yields curtailed by this

:30:58.:31:00.

through the green leaves. So we're real heat and dry weather, and it's

:31:00.:31:03.

all down to not having enough rainfall. So it's going to be having

:31:03.:31:05.

all down to not having enough a major, major impact nationwide.

:31:05.:31:11.

Now with the combines rolling, Tom's starting to see the results of all

:31:11.:31:18.

his hard work. But there is one wheat crop that remains uncut. He's

:31:18.:31:21.

hoping this special field will produce premium quality grain that

:31:21.:31:31.

will all go to make bread. If it doesn't make the grade, it will only

:31:31.:31:35.

be good for animal feed. You had another very late night, working

:31:35.:31:38.

well into the night with those combines. That's what we thrive on

:31:38.:31:43.

at this time of the year! Absolutely. And we still don't know

:31:43.:31:47.

how good that harvest is yet. But this is your special field isn't it?

:31:47.:31:49.

This is one of the ones that we this is your special field isn't it?

:31:49.:31:51.

think is one of the best fields on this is your special field isn't it?

:31:52.:31:54.

the farm this year. this is your special field isn't it?

:31:54.:31:57.

high hopes for it and today we're going to find out how good it is.

:31:57.:32:01.

Why is this field so special? This is the one that we've been treating

:32:01.:32:05.

especially all year. It's looked a great field of wheat, we're really

:32:05.:32:08.

hopeful it's going to me one of the highest yielding bits of wheat. So

:32:08.:32:12.

we're now going to find out, does it make milling quality, what's the

:32:12.:32:15.

yield and just how successful it's been. Is this your bread field? This

:32:15.:32:19.

is the bread field, exactly that. So we're hoping to be making some bread

:32:19.:32:21.

is the bread field, exactly that. So out of this later. But how do you

:32:21.:32:25.

know that it's ready to harvest? The first thing we have to do is we have

:32:25.:32:29.

to make sure the moisture content is where we need it for harvesting. We

:32:29.:32:32.

to make sure the moisture content is need it to be below 15% and what

:32:32.:32:36.

we've got here, we just need to be able to run some grains out so that

:32:36.:32:40.

we can mill them down. And then just put it into the moisture meter which

:32:40.:32:58.

is just like a coffee grinder. It's only now, after nearly a year of

:32:58.:33:01.

worry, that Tom will finally discover the quality of his crop.

:33:01.:33:05.

What impact has the heat wave had on his special field? So, Tom, that

:33:06.:33:08.

lack of rain, that lack of moisture, what's that going to do to the crop?

:33:08.:33:12.

We're almost about to harvest. It just means the ears, the grains

:33:12.:33:16.

aren't going to be as big as they could have been and I'm sure we've

:33:16.:33:18.

lost some yield from not having could have been and I'm sure we've

:33:18.:33:21.

enough moisture. OK, well, we're about to find out. Well if you're

:33:21.:33:24.

going to harvest you're going to need one of these! Look at that

:33:24.:33:28.

beastie. It is a mega machine. The scale of it's amazing. I'm scared to

:33:28.:33:32.

ask. What's the cost for one of these babies? You're looking at

:33:32.:33:35.

around a quarter of a million pound investment. It's huge. It is. But

:33:35.:33:39.

you have to think, in the field we're about to harvest there's

:33:39.:33:42.

probably over £50,000 worth of produce that we're harvesting. So

:33:42.:33:46.

they bring in a massive value in a day as well. So big investment but

:33:46.:33:49.

hopefully a lot to harvest. But then what's interesting is that you're

:33:49.:33:51.

replacing hundreds of workers. I mean in the olden days the whole

:33:52.:33:55.

community used to get involved, didn't they? The whole village was

:33:55.:33:58.

involved with harvest and that's where the harvest festival came

:33:58.:34:01.

from. So we went to meet a good friend of Tom's actually, Guy Smith,

:34:01.:34:05.

who does hanker after those good old days a bit. Farming was once a

:34:05.:34:09.

labour intensive business but in the last hundred years around one

:34:09.:34:10.

million jobs have been lost. last hundred years around one

:34:10.:34:13.

there's a farmer who wants to celebrate the effort of those lost

:34:13.:34:16.

workers. In August we visited Guy Smith who offered to help us re-live

:34:16.:34:20.

the people powered harvest of the past. So this was the workforce that

:34:20.:34:27.

your dad had on the farm? How many people were there and how does that

:34:27.:34:30.

compare to your workforce now? Well, when Dad took over the farm in 53,

:34:30.:34:35.

the year he got married, he had 60 blokes and 40 horses and today I've

:34:35.:34:39.

got two blokes and three tractors. That's a big change. In one

:34:39.:34:45.

generation? Yeah. I've seen a lot of changes in my time and he saw a lot

:34:45.:34:49.

of changes in his time. In those days they weren't doing all the

:34:49.:34:53.

harvest by hand but you can see they've got the pitch forks and

:34:53.:34:56.

that's what they were shifting the bales and the straw with. You

:34:56.:35:00.

actually personally feel a real link into the past, don't you? I do. When

:35:00.:35:04.

I see my dad there with all his blokes, yeah. You all right?When

:35:04.:35:12.

you're a farmer's son of a farmer's son of a farmer's son you recognise

:35:12.:35:16.

that in farming there's a sort of thread of continuity in your life

:35:16.:35:19.

that goes back through many years. The landscape, the crops you grow.

:35:19.:35:22.

You know you should be proud of where you come from, be proud of

:35:22.:35:26.

your roots. Be aware of the past, be aware of tradition. To celebrate

:35:26.:35:28.

your roots. Be aware of the past, be this long farming tradition, Guy

:35:28.:35:31.

wants to experience the harvest of yesteryear. He's put together an old

:35:31.:35:33.

wants to experience the harvest of style reaping gang. Champion scyther

:35:33.:35:40.

Simon Damant knows how it was done. Use the point to get it up so you're

:35:40.:35:46.

getting bigger handfuls. Like that? No, like this.

:35:46.:35:55.

A reaper could do 12 of these in a day. A day would be ten hours. While

:35:55.:36:04.

they begin their toil, on the other side of the field, I'm keen to see

:36:04.:36:08.

how these teams were made redundant by the combines. Not surprisingly

:36:08.:36:11.

how these teams were made redundant I'm going to need a safety lesson

:36:11.:36:17.

before I get to drive it. I'm under the strict supervision of Nigel

:36:17.:36:24.

Honeyman. Everything will come to life. Including the telly?Including

:36:24.:36:32.

both tellies. We have one telly looking behind us and one telling us

:36:32.:36:35.

everything we need to know about what's happening with the combine.

:36:35.:36:38.

Most of our controls are on this orange handle here. So this deals

:36:38.:36:42.

with motion, it deals with moving the cutter bar up and down. So how

:36:42.:36:45.

is it cutting so fast? We have 25 the cutter bar up and down. So how

:36:45.:36:49.

foot knife sections along the front. That's cutting at approximately 1300

:36:49.:36:55.

cuts per minute. The hardest bit about this is having to stay bent

:36:55.:36:59.

double. Apart from that? Not hard work, he says. He's been doing it

:36:59.:37:05.

for about 15 seconds! So what's the average speed of a

:37:05.:37:30.

good farmer? Well we've done a quarter of a football field already.

:37:30.:37:34.

We've already done a quarter of a football field? While Gregg and Guy

:37:34.:37:37.

are getting blisters hand reaping, I haven't even got my hands on the

:37:37.:37:40.

wheel. We're being steered from space. GPS satellites know exactly

:37:40.:37:41.

where we are. At full power we can cut a tonne of

:37:41.:37:56.

wheat a minute. But the real beauty of a combine is that it combines the

:37:56.:38:02.

job of cutting with threshing. The chaff spews out and the grain is

:38:02.:38:04.

collected behind the cab. When do I chaff spews out and the grain is

:38:04.:38:16.

need to slow down then? You got to double tap the yard button as soon

:38:16.:38:20.

as the last of the standing wheat is done. Tell me when, tell me when,

:38:20.:38:24.

tell me when. Now! That's it, you can stop now. Ah yes, look at that,

:38:24.:38:34.

and even better look at this. This is what we've just harvested in a

:38:34.:38:39.

couple of minutes. You'd have to really go some to do that by hand.

:38:39.:38:43.

For the lads it's painfully slow progress. But they do have some

:38:43.:38:49.

stalks for threshing. Time to bring in reinforcements.

:38:49.:38:57.

Back in the day women and children were a vital part of the wheat

:38:57.:39:03.

harvest Once you've cut it you've got to separate the ear from the

:39:03.:39:09.

stem. That's what these guys are attempting to do. After it's been

:39:09.:39:15.

threshed, the wheat still needs winnowing before the grain is ready.

:39:15.:39:21.

And winnowing is literally separating the wheat from the chaff,

:39:21.:39:24.

so what we're doing is trying to get the husks off the grain. If I do a

:39:25.:39:31.

bit of this you can see that the wind takes the husk and I'm just

:39:31.:39:35.

left with the grains from the middle. It's all in the angle of the

:39:35.:39:45.

tipping. There's enough to make a small bap. How much toast have we

:39:45.:39:50.

got in here do you think? I'd say two pieces. I'd reckon you're lucky

:39:50.:39:55.

to have crust. 30 of us have been harvesting for two hours. Do we have

:39:55.:39:57.

to have crust. 30 of us have been enough wheat to feed ourselves? So

:39:57.:40:03.

come on, what have we got? And we have just under ten kilos. So how

:40:03.:40:09.

many loaves of bread would that make? Well, you take one kilo of

:40:09.:40:14.

wheat to make one loaf of bread, so we've got just enough to make ten

:40:14.:40:18.

loaves of bread. Guy and his team have learnt the hard way the effort

:40:18.:40:28.

involved in the harvest of old. Back here on Tom's farm, I'm with combine

:40:28.:40:31.

operator Olly bringing in the wheat that we hope will make the grade for

:40:31.:40:37.

bread flour. Gregg's over there in the tractor, ready to collect our

:40:37.:40:42.

first load of grain. Now if you let go of the steering wheel. Now? What

:40:42.:40:48.

now? And then if I double click that button. That's it, that's going in

:40:49.:40:53.

now. Then press your RES button and that will lower your header down. I

:40:53.:40:58.

still can't get used to no steering. At the end of the day, when you

:40:58.:41:02.

don't have to steer, you can really get the performance out of the

:41:02.:41:05.

machine. So can you make a difference to what's coming in?

:41:05.:41:08.

Yeah, yeah, on the sample and how clean it is and your losses. What

:41:09.:41:12.

you're blowing out the back So there's an awful lot more to think

:41:13.:41:16.

about than just me sitting here and driving it? Oh, definitely.In the

:41:16.:41:20.

thinner patches you can push on a bit more. Obviously you have to keep

:41:20.:41:24.

the combine loaded and then when you get to the thicker areas you need to

:41:24.:41:27.

slow down because obviously you'll be putting a lot more through the

:41:27.:41:31.

machine. It's not just about being a driver. It's about being an

:41:31.:41:34.

operator. That is a nice sight to see, all that grain pouring in.

:41:34.:41:37.

Yeah, it definitely is a good feeling. That's great. And what have

:41:37.:41:41.

we got in terms of how we know how much our yield is, what we're

:41:41.:41:45.

getting out? If you press run number two, you've got your yield there. So

:41:45.:41:48.

right now we are harvesting? Actually it's going up. 8.3, 8.7

:41:48.:42:01.

tonnes per hectare. Yeah, that's the average of the field so far. And

:42:01.:42:05.

what would be a really good yield? It would be nice to be averaging ten

:42:05.:42:07.

but obviously because of the weather It would be nice to be averaging ten

:42:07.:42:11.

this year it's not going to be anywhere near like that. OK. And

:42:11.:42:15.

would you expect it to vary, the yield throughout the field?

:42:15.:42:17.

would you expect it to vary, the because of the different soil types

:42:17.:42:20.

and structures over the field. I find this fascinating, you know.

:42:20.:42:23.

Tom's maps and how you can map out each field and tailor what you're

:42:23.:42:27.

doing to the crop. To the pinpoint, exactly. Oh, a hare! Look at that!

:42:27.:42:31.

It's great, isn't it? It's such a treat for us to get a hare. You just

:42:31.:42:34.

don't see them. Beautiful. Well, it's bumpier than I thought it was

:42:34.:42:38.

going to be. We're going right across the rough stuff at the

:42:38.:42:41.

moment. It's just because it was so wet last year. Normally you wouldn't

:42:41.:42:45.

have those ruts. It's just because it was so wet. Tom, this is

:42:45.:42:48.

Philippa. We were thinking that we'd unload here. That's exactly what we

:42:48.:42:56.

thought. Great minds. So let me get this right. You've got to get beside

:42:56.:43:00.

the combine harvester and he's going to empty some of what he's picked up

:43:00.:43:04.

into your truck? That is it. We try and keep him going all the time.

:43:04.:43:08.

When we have both combines and all our carting gang we're looking at

:43:08.:43:12.

£400 an hour running cost. So if you're half an hour behind on this,

:43:12.:43:16.

that's £200, simple as that? The plan is that he doesn't stop. That's

:43:16.:43:20.

it. Now you can let go of them. If you slow down. Tom's coming up

:43:20.:43:21.

behind us and it's you slow down. Tom's coming up

:43:21.:43:25.

idea to unload. OK, standing by to unload. Say when. As soon as he's

:43:25.:43:28.

underneath there. He's in position, so press unload and out it

:43:28.:43:31.

underneath there. He's in position, spew? Tom, try and drive in a

:43:31.:43:33.

straight line. This will be embarrassing if I get this wrong,

:43:33.:43:37.

won't it? Right, we're unloading, here we go. I've pressed it, here it

:43:37.:43:43.

comes. Look at that! There it is. That's extraordinary. That is

:43:43.:43:52.

fantastic. That is fantastic. I know you probably take that for granted

:43:53.:43:55.

fantastic. That is fantastic. I know now but that is wonderful. It takes

:43:55.:43:59.

it out really fast, doesn't it? That comes out at about 150L per second.

:43:59.:44:05.

It's got to be deeply satisfying. At the end of all your hard work for

:44:05.:44:08.

the year, watching that. Yeah, definitely. That's the year complete

:44:08.:44:12.

now, when that's back in the shed. I get that. It's a good feeling Oh,

:44:12.:44:17.

he's stopped. Is that enough? Have we emptied him? That was fantastic.

:44:17.:44:25.

That was fantastic. Will one tractor like this going backwards and

:44:25.:44:28.

forwards keep that whole harvester going? Will we need two? We have two

:44:28.:44:32.

harvesters and three tractors and trailers. And sometimes we need a

:44:32.:44:35.

fourth tractor and trailer. When the machines are working together,

:44:35.:44:37.

logistics are much easier. When they're working apart, it's really

:44:38.:44:43.

difficult. Let's get this lot back to the grain store.

:44:43.:44:49.

You get to play with some very big toys, don't you, mate? You know

:44:49.:44:57.

what? Boys and their toys and all that sort of thing. Tonker toys.

:44:58.:45:01.

Well done, Tom, very skillfully done. I'm proud of you, mate. That's

:45:01.:45:02.

another 18 tonnes safely put in the done. I'm proud of you, mate. That's

:45:03.:45:06.

grain store. And what I'm most excited about is that we've sent a

:45:06.:45:10.

little bit to the flour mill so we can make some bread later. Now

:45:10.:45:18.

that's a good sight, isn't it? Does that give you a real sense of

:45:18.:45:21.

satisfaction? Suddenly you know it's safe once you've got it in the barn.

:45:21.:45:31.

This is what we work for, the whole year is spent trying to get this.

:45:31.:45:34.

Forgive me, a city boy like me, I mean I know I like my food, but I'm

:45:34.:45:39.

ignorant. I mean you can't just plant it out and leave it, can you?

:45:39.:45:43.

No. It takes a lot of nurturing through the year. I mean, we plant

:45:43.:45:47.

seeds in the autumn, but then right the way through from the spring

:45:47.:45:50.

we're in the field every three or four weeks doing different things to

:45:50.:45:53.

it. So we're putting treatments on it or fertiliser to make it grow to

:45:53.:45:58.

try and get the crop to be as good as it can be. What do you put on the

:45:58.:46:01.

try and get the crop to be as good crops, Tom? Everybody wants to know.

:46:01.:46:04.

We're putting on just basic plant food - nitrogen, phosphate and

:46:04.:46:06.

We're putting on just basic plant potassium. Just simple minerals that

:46:06.:46:09.

they need to grow. But then also sprays to make sure they don't get

:46:09.:46:12.

any diseases. It's just simple things to keep them healthy. People

:46:12.:46:14.

any diseases. It's just simple are scared of sprays and stuff,

:46:14.:46:15.

aren't they? It's a are scared of sprays and stuff,

:46:15.:46:19.

subject but we can't feed the world organically. So yields would be half

:46:19.:46:22.

what they are if we weren't using the chemicals and fertilizers that

:46:22.:46:25.

we're using at the moment. It's not possible for the world to feed

:46:25.:46:29.

itself on organic wheat? I don't believe it is. However it's grown,

:46:29.:46:32.

there's always a huge demand for wheat. The poorer quality grains go

:46:32.:46:33.

for animal feed but wheat. The poorer quality grains go

:46:34.:46:36.

that his will be sold at a wheat. The poorer quality grains go

:46:36.:46:38.

to a mill like this and go to make wheat. The poorer quality grains go

:46:38.:46:42.

bread. Grain analyst Jo Cauvain is here to test Tom's wheat and let him

:46:42.:46:45.

know whether his special field has made the grade. And do you have to

:46:45.:46:54.

do this with every batch? Every lorry load that goes into a mill,

:46:54.:46:58.

every lorry load that has to go onto a ship. And what do you have to do

:46:58.:47:03.

to it? First I turn it into flour, and then we'll test the thickness of

:47:03.:47:05.

the actual dough. I'm going to weigh out seven grams.

:47:05.:47:13.

And here I've got 25ml of distilled water. Then I combine the two. So

:47:13.:47:19.

this is basically mimicking bread making. I'm shaking it so all the

:47:19.:47:24.

flour is in suspension in the water. Do you know what sort of score

:47:24.:47:27.

you're looking for? A score above 300 is great. Anything above 225

:47:27.:47:31.

means that it would be OK and saleable as milling wheat. The

:47:31.:47:36.

measurement is in seconds. It's the time it takes that weight to drop

:47:36.:47:41.

through the flour and water mix. But this test here, no wonder you look

:47:41.:47:44.

pensive, is the difference between bread wheat or chicken feed.

:47:44.:47:53.

Absolutely. So the thicker and more gloopy it is, the better quality it

:47:53.:47:57.

is? Let's have a look what we've got. It's now expanded all the way

:47:57.:48:04.

up the tube. So the more energy, obviously the longer it takes this

:48:04.:48:08.

to fall through it. And what speed has it taken? It's taken 362

:48:08.:48:12.

seconds. That means we're OK! We're OK with that. Well done. I found

:48:12.:48:15.

that completely nerve wracking. Now, Tom doesn't just grow wheat of

:48:15.:48:20.

course. He grows barley. Tom's barley's already harvested but we're

:48:20.:48:24.

going up to Scotland now where they are just gathering theirs in. And

:48:24.:48:28.

their barley's not just going to be eaten, it's going to be drunk.

:48:28.:48:32.

Barley may look like wheat, but the low gluten content in its grains

:48:32.:48:36.

means it's nowhere near as good for making bread. It is much hardier

:48:36.:48:40.

though, making it well suited to the growing conditions in the north of

:48:40.:48:43.

Britain. So it's become the staple grain of Scotland's whisky industry.

:48:43.:48:47.

The distillery at Roseisle near Inverness gets through 40,000 tonnes

:48:47.:48:57.

every year. At harvest time, 40 of these whopping great trucks arrive

:48:57.:49:00.

here every day. Each one of them fully laden with barley from local

:49:00.:49:04.

farms. But whisky distillers are very particular about the barley

:49:04.:49:07.

they'll use. Only the very finest grains make the grade. All the

:49:07.:49:13.

barley on these trucks has already been quality tested. This is whisky

:49:13.:49:17.

grade barley, but how on earth do you make a drink out of grains?

:49:17.:49:29.

Barley grains are packed full of starch, and through a process known

:49:29.:49:35.

as malting, the grains are tricked into germinating, and this starch is

:49:35.:49:41.

broken down into sugars. Add water and yeast and those sugars turn to

:49:41.:49:46.

alcohol. This clear liquid is whisky in its raw form before it goes off

:49:47.:49:49.

to be aged. See that? That's the alcohol

:49:49.:49:58.

distilled from the barley, but that now goes into oak barrels for three

:49:58.:50:02.

years, sometimes a lot longer, and it's that oak that gives it more

:50:02.:50:05.

flavour and of course that beautiful colour. Lovely! Before the barley

:50:05.:50:12.

flavour and of course that beautiful goes for alcohol, someone has to

:50:12.:50:17.

decide if it's up to scratch. Farmers have to send a sample to the

:50:17.:50:20.

barley bench, where it comes under the scrutiny of Carol Inch. She has

:50:20.:50:26.

the power to pass or fail a harvest, so the farmers call her Rejection

:50:26.:50:33.

Jane. So what are we actually looking for, Carol? We need low

:50:33.:50:37.

nitrogen in this barley because high nitrogen takes up more space within

:50:37.:50:40.

the grain and there's less starch that we convert into sugar. What we

:50:41.:50:44.

need form this barley is low nitrogen because that means we'll

:50:44.:50:47.

have more starch and more starch means more actual alcohol. Nitrogen

:50:47.:50:54.

helps plants grow - it's a key component of fertiliser. But barley

:50:54.:50:58.

farmers need to strike a delicate balance. Too little fertiliser and

:50:58.:51:02.

the crop won't grow as well, but add too much, and the grains run

:51:02.:51:05.

the crop won't grow as well, but add risk of being rejected. Nitrogen

:51:05.:51:12.

within the corns gives you a steely grey colour. So if it's all white,

:51:12.:51:18.

that's what we want. If it's all grey, that's too much nitrogen.

:51:18.:51:22.

We've got about 20-30 grains there and only one looks a bit steely. We

:51:22.:51:28.

can let that go, can't we? Well done, boys, you're in! The barley

:51:28.:51:31.

that passes the test becomes part of over 25 million bottles of whisky

:51:31.:51:33.

produced at Roseisle every year. over 25 million bottles of whisky

:51:33.:51:37.

Whisky is very big business. Keeping the standards up is absolutely

:51:37.:51:47.

essential. You know what? It all starts with sourcing the very best

:51:47.:51:48.

barley. With Tom's grain all in, and our

:51:48.:51:56.

flour back from the millers, I've come to meet Tom's mum. You all

:51:56.:52:00.

right, Tom's Mum? Very well, thank you. So this is the real test, isn't

:52:00.:52:05.

it? We're going to make bread from it. See whether it rises and what it

:52:05.:52:09.

tastes like. This is really quite elastic, nice and cool. But I've got

:52:09.:52:11.

to say, it does feel slightly elastic, nice and cool. But I've got

:52:11.:52:15.

It's because it's wholemeal, so it will be a closer texture than a

:52:15.:52:21.

white loaf. Right, into the tin? Right, pop it in. Now we'll proof it

:52:21.:52:27.

on the Aga for about 40 minutes, and then it'll be ready to cook. Proof

:52:27.:52:33.

first, then in the oven. Look at that. Bread straight from the wheat

:52:33.:52:40.

field. It's been a very frustrating year for Tom, but despite the dismal

:52:40.:52:43.

autumn, endless winter, and summer heat wave, most of the seeds he

:52:43.:52:47.

struggled to plant have made it to harvest. And much of his crop,

:52:47.:52:54.

including the special field, made the grade for milling wheat.

:52:54.:53:10.

This is nice, isn't it? It's nice to sit down, end of a long day. And it

:53:11.:53:19.

might be a mechanised harvest, but what's been incredible for us is to

:53:19.:53:22.

watch how hard you work. It's incredible. But how have you done,

:53:22.:53:26.

mate? I mean, you know pretty much what your costs are. What about your

:53:26.:53:30.

returns? Do you know what kind of price you're going to get? Some of

:53:30.:53:33.

our crops we've already sold and on those ones we've got a really good

:53:33.:53:37.

idea. We know the yield as soon as the combine's gone through so we've

:53:37.:53:41.

got a good idea where we're at and unfortunately it's been a really

:53:41.:53:44.

challenging year. Considering that we had a really wet autumn, followed

:53:44.:53:48.

by a really cold spell in March and then the really hot weather in June.

:53:48.:53:50.

by a really cold spell in March and So the culmination of that means

:53:50.:53:53.

it's not been an exceptional year and we're pretty pleased to be

:53:53.:53:55.

getting something just below and we're pretty pleased to be

:53:55.:53:57.

average. Head above water?Yeah, just about. That's a good place to

:53:57.:53:59.

be. Of course it's not just our Tom just about. That's a good place to

:53:59.:54:03.

here who's been battling against all sorts of conditions to bring in the

:54:03.:54:06.

harvest this year. Farmers all over the country have been doing exactly

:54:06.:54:10.

the same thing. So how have they got on? One of the big national issues

:54:10.:54:13.

for harvest 2013 was planting. Compared to the average amount,

:54:13.:54:16.

farmers didn't get enough wheat seed in the ground. Sadly wheat planting

:54:16.:54:25.

fell short by 20% It was the same for rapeseed. The struggle to plant

:54:25.:54:29.

in the cold, wet Autumn of 2012 got farmers off to a terrible start.

:54:29.:54:33.

What does that mean for wheat totals? The average is 15 million

:54:33.:54:36.

What does that mean for wheat tonnes a year. In 2012 we only grew

:54:36.:54:44.

13.3 million tonnes of wheat. But harvest 2013 is predicted to be even

:54:44.:54:49.

worse. A million tonnes less than last year's dismal result. We had

:54:49.:54:54.

better weather, but our farmers couldn't catch up from a poor

:54:54.:54:57.

beginning. But there's a glimmer of hope. More of our wheat this year

:54:58.:55:02.

should be good enough for flour. What about oilseed rape? Early

:55:02.:55:07.

growth in the wet was devastated by attacks from slugs and pigeons. The

:55:07.:55:12.

warm summer helped but the crop's expected to be down nearly 10% on

:55:12.:55:18.

average. Harvest 2013 was bad for oilseed rape. Without wheat and

:55:18.:55:22.

oilseed rape, farmers desperately tried to make up by planting lots of

:55:22.:55:28.

barley. In 2012 we grew 5.5 million tonnes. What about barley this year?

:55:28.:55:34.

We predict a rise by more than a quarter. But on the whole, the

:55:34.:55:39.

hangover from last year's wash-out has given cereals farmers a big

:55:39.:55:46.

headache in harvest 2013. That news doesn't paint the brightest of

:55:46.:55:50.

pictures does it, Tom? The trouble is this year we've known all along

:55:51.:55:54.

that it wasn't going to be the best year, but around the world we're

:55:55.:55:58.

having a massive global harvest. The UK is having a small harvest. That

:55:58.:56:02.

means our prices are down because of the world supply but in the UK we

:56:02.:56:06.

haven't had that great of a year. But isn't that a double bad whammy?

:56:06.:56:10.

Exactly that. That is the sum of it. We don't have as much to sell and

:56:10.:56:14.

it's at a lower price so there's just not the gross income that there

:56:14.:56:17.

would have been otherwise. So what's going to happen is that we're going

:56:17.:56:22.

to import a lot more and your price is going to go down? We're going to

:56:22.:56:26.

be net importers in the UK for the second year running and we haven't

:56:26.:56:28.

be net importers in the UK for the imported wheat on that scale for

:56:28.:56:31.

decades. Is that right? We've always been wheat self-sufficient. For

:56:31.:56:34.

years we have, Gregg, yeah. I never knew that. Here, talking about

:56:34.:56:36.

self-sufficiencies? Oh, my it's heavy. Is this your bread? I can't

:56:36.:56:40.

lift it! This is as light as a feather! Bit of good news here, and

:56:40.:56:45.

can I show you this? This has never happened to me before but this, I

:56:45.:56:48.

think, is wonderful. That is a beautiful, beautiful loaf of bread.

:56:48.:56:51.

Don't stick your nose in it! Once you get this, you'll want to stick

:56:51.:56:55.

your nose in it! And you know where this comes from? This comes from

:56:55.:56:59.

this land we're sitting on. And that's the first time I've ever had

:56:59.:57:02.

the chance to eat bread from where it's produced. Is that right? I tell

:57:02.:57:06.

you what, that's really brought that home to me. That is absolutely

:57:06.:57:12.

fantastic. Cut it, cut it, cut it. Bit of bread and cheese, Tom? I

:57:12.:57:17.

think you've earned it. Are you proud, Tom? I'm proud. That's a

:57:17.:57:24.

lovely loaf. That is good bread though. That is a really light but

:57:24.:57:28.

earthy and filling loaf. I feel at one with this field now. We take it

:57:28.:57:32.

for granted. When you're walking around the countryside, you don't

:57:32.:57:35.

realise what it's used for. You don't link the two together and this

:57:35.:57:38.

is an opportunity to just really make that link. Tom, thank you very

:57:38.:57:42.

much for having us here. No, no. It's been really enjoyable. We've

:57:42.:57:47.

learned so, so much. If you'd like to learn more you can: and there's a

:57:47.:57:51.

leaflet available which is full of information. And I suspect that

:57:51.:57:54.

there are some recipes there as well. Not just some recipes there,

:57:54.:57:57.

some fantastic recipes and ways to find out how to use our British

:57:57.:58:00.

harvest. And also there's information on there about finding

:58:00.:58:03.

harvest events near you, maybe as good as this. Well done, son. Cut us

:58:03.:58:09.

another bit? Next time, a sweet treat. Just what

:58:09.:58:24.

are the secrets of perfect fruit? And how have our fruit farmers done

:58:24.:58:30.

this year? Join us tomorrow at nine.

:58:30.:58:38.

Right across our countryside it's harvest time. Gregg Wallace and Philippa Forrester are down on the farm revealing the results of this year's harvest as it comes in. This is the spectacular climax of the farming year, when fortunes are won or lost in the attempt to put food on our plates. Our farmers have spent all year carefully tending their crops helped by the very latest science, but they are still completely at the mercy of our fickle weather. Can they put a disastrous 2012, the coldest spring for 50 years and a scorching July behind them and work their magic to bring in a bumper crop?

In this second episode we visit a classic arable farm in the east of England, the bread basket of Britain. Gregg and Philippa join farmer Tom Bradshaw at the start of his frantic wheat harvest. It's a race against time to get the crop in, using massive combine harvesters that cost more than the average house. Last year most British wheat farmers had a terrible year, the crop wasn't up to standard for making bread and we were forced to import bread wheat from Germany. Will Tom Bradshaw's wheat make the grade in Harvest 2013 and be good enough to be sold for bread? Stefan Gates reveals the biology behind the magic of seeds and how they germinate. Philippa explores the extraordinary precision and speed of the oil seed rape harvest that must be gathered in before a rain storm which could ruin a year's work. And we explore the grain harvest behind whisky, one of Britain's biggest exports.

For the first time on TV, the series will reveal an early harvest report for the UK, which will give an indication of which crops are likely to be the winners and losers in 2013. Has wheat recovered from the washout of 2012 when the poor quality meant most of the crop was only fit to feed to animals? How did slugs and pigeons nearly destroy the oil seed rape harvest of 2013, and what will become of our bumper barley crop this year? Harvest 2013 tells the story of food through the high and lows of a remarkable year of weather.

Harvest 2013 is supported by BBC Learning who have produced a booklet to explain the science behind producing UK crops together with recipes from Gregg Wallace using harvest produce. The booklet will be available online at www.bbc.co.uk/Harvest.