The harvest in north-east Scotland is now so late that many crops are ’salvage jobs’ only.
Further south in Angus, Perth and Fife, progress has been painfully slow thanks to day after day of showers but, in central Aberdeenshire, a major cereal growing area, longer spells of rain have taken their toll on crop quality.
Unharvested wheat is beginning to sprout in the head, as is earlier-sown spring barley around Elgin on the Moray coast.
Further inland, in the later areas, the barley was hardly ready two to three weeks ago when the weather broke.
As of Tuesday morning (September 19), few combines had turned a wheel since the beginning of the month.
Bryan Chalmers, an AICC crop consultant with Allathan Associates in Aberdeenshire, said: “Today (Tuesday) is to be a nice day, but after yesterday’s rain, a heavy dew this morning, and with poor ground conditions, I am dubious whether anything will go.
“On my crop management farms we have 48 per cent of the harvest to go. A huge amount of barley, supposedly for malting, nearly all the winter wheat, all the oats, and one grower with spring wheat.
“Failure to get winter barley straw dry enough to bale means some have dropped oilseed rape from the rotation.
"Virtually all the spring barley straw combined two to three weeks ago is sitting in the bout, hence straw prices are creeping up. There is also a perception that increased vegetable area and crops grown for digesters are going away with a lot of acres.”
Ground conditions in Forth and Clyde and Ayrshire are still too poor to allow combines to travel in many instances.
As of Wednesday, Bruce Ferguson, General Manager Scotland with Frontier Agriculture reckoned 30 per cent of the spring barley in Aberdeenshire was still to harvest along with 90 per cent of the wheat and nearly all the spring oats.
“We did see some barley samples yesterday but moisture content was around 25 per cent. Aberdeenshire has been under a continuous northerly airflow and we are just never having any decent harvest weather. Morayshire is also affected.
“The quality was okay until the weather broke. It is all very frustrating because the crops looked so well right through the summer.”
Of Scotland’s 250,000 hectares of spring barley, some 40 per cent is grown in the north-east counties of Aberdeenshire and Moray.
If 30 per cent of the crop in the area is still to harvest that raises question marks over the quality of about 200,000 tonnes out of a national crop of an estimated 1.6 million tonnes.