Despite everything that has been thrown at them in terms of adverse weather and Covid-19 restrictions, it seems from an early estimate that Scottish farmers may have produced their biggest harvest for 10 years.
The news may come as surprise to many but the statistics to back up the claim come from Scotland’s Chief Statistician and are compiled using yield estimates from industry experts and crop areas from the June Agricultural Census.
The good year is mainly due to a predicted rise in total yield of two per cent which could lead to grain production increasing to 3.1 million tonnes.
Much of the boost comes from the 259,000 ha (639,730 ac) of spring barley which is estimated to have produced an excellent yield of 6.85 t/ha (2.77t/ac).
The total tonnage produced is up 15 per cent.
Spring oats also appear to have yielded well with production up by 11 per cent.
Winter cereals, not surprisingly given the poor establishment conditions in late 2019, performed less well.
Winter barley tonnage is estimated to have dropped by 21 per cent. Winter wheat was down by 13 per cent by area but still produced a decent average yield of 8.6 t/ha (3.48t/ac).
The oilseed rape tonnage is estimated not to have changed much with a three per cent reduction in area offset by a two per cent increase in yield.
NFU Scotland combinable crops committee chairman Willie Thomson said: “Yields for spring sown crops have been good but there have been a range of quality issues associated with the dry spring and wet summer that have led to significant rejections for malting and that has a significant impact on the value of the crop.
“There has been a huge variation in autumn sown crops from some outstanding yields to some atrocious ones. Quality problems have also beset winter malting barley.
“Prices have, so far, been disappointing for feed barley but latest figures from the AHDB suggest a bit of a lift and with the big fall in UK wheat and barley production, it is imperative that the feed barley trade be pulled up by the more steeply rising feed wheat price.”
The figures will be corrected later in the year as more data becomes available.
Livestock estimates taken from the June census show no end to the fall in cattle numbers.
A one per cent drop in beef cattle and two per cent drop in dairy brought numbers to a new 60 year low.
Dairy numbers have been mostly stable over the last 10 years.
Controversially the Chief Statistician has remarked that the fall in the number of beef cattle has driven most of the decline in greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.
The results also show there had been a good lambing season, with numbers picking up after the extreme wintry spell in the early 2018 season.
The number of pigs have gone up for the second year in a row. Poultry numbers have fallen due to a drop in the number of birds used for laying eggs.