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Early Scottish harvest signs encouraging in terms of yield and quality

After weeks of catchy weather the Scottish harvest is finally properly underway with combines now moving into spring barley crops. 

Credit: Ron Stephen
Credit: Ron Stephen
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Early Scottish harvest signs encouraging in terms of yield and quality

A good drying wind saw the first significant tonnages harvested on Monday (August 19) with early signs encouraging in terms of yield and quality, the only exception being areas which had been flattened by rain.

 

Charlie Birnie, commercial director of Grainco in Scotland, said: “Up to now most areas have had rain at some point every day.

 

“The biggest issue is that 70 per cent of the spring barley will be ready in the next 14 days and a lot of the wheat as well.

 

“We have seen some very nice malting samples already from the Moray coast.


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“Harvest there last year was very poor but this time we are seeing good yields and low grain nitrogen.”

 

Mr Birnie said it was too early to assess malting barley demand. Most crops were grown on contract and a spot market would only develop once these contracts were filled.

 

A larger proportion of the spring barley crop is in Laureate this year which yields well and produces low nitrogen grain.

 

Yields

“Oilseed rape harvest went fairly well,” said Mr Birnie. “There has however some sprouting in some crops due to the wet weather and high temperatures.

 

“It did not seem to make much difference whether it was swathed or desiccated.”

 

Robin Barron, general manager at East of Scotland Farmers co-operative in Coupar Angus, said: “All our members’ winter barley grown for malting made the grade. Today (Tuesday) is our first big intake day on spring barley. It seems the early and late farms have all started together.

 

“Yields appear to be good and screenings and nitrogen so far are all with in specification.

“Prices might be nothing special and this is not the year to be growing speculatively without a contract.

 

“Looming Brexit uncertainty and the threat of tariffs are exerting downward pressure. But the malting demand seems reasonable.

 

“Scotch Whisky is doing well and after last year’s harvest I cannot think that there will be big stocks of barley to carry over.”

 

Bruce Ferguson, manager for Frontier Agriculture in Scotland, said: “About 70 per cent of the oilseed rape is in store now and yields have been good at 1.6 to 1.8 tonnes per acre.

 

“Spring barley is only about three per cent to five per cent harvested but we could see a lot combined by the weekend if the weather holds.

 

“Around 75 per cent of the crop is Laureate and yields look promising with lower screenings and nitrogen than we saw last year but we really need to wait and see how things develop once we are passed the first few fields.”

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