Scottish harvest held back by weather worries

Crop reports from round the Scotland show all farmers are in the same boat
Crop reports from round the Scotland show all farmers are in the same boat

Mixed weather and high drying costs are blighting what promised to be a great harvest in Scotland, reports around the country show.

Farmers around the country have been reporting some success with winter barley and small amounts of oilseed rape, according to NFU Scotland.

However the recent poor weather means harvest for rape, wheat and spring barley will now have to be squeezed into the next available weather window and when ground conditions for machinery improve.

Sowing winter crops of oilseed rape, wheat and barley may also be delayed.

Most farmers are also resigned to drying costs, coming at a time when prices are falling, input costs are rising and the uncertainty of Brexit, NFU Scotland said.

The union's Combinable Crops Chairman Ian Sands, who farms in Perthshire said: “Growers the length and breadth of Scotland all seem to be in the same boat as we watch the promise of a very good harvest falter in the wet weather.

“The harvesting of winter barley and oilseed rape should all be finished but there is a bit of winter barley still to be cut and straw that has been lying for some time waiting to be baled is looking very weathered now.

“There is still quite a bit of oilseed rape to cut which will not be faring well in the heavy rain we have been getting. Some losses will have inevitably happened.”

He said spring barley is just starting to come ready so farmers will soon know how it has fared over the past few weeks of bad weather.

“Some small amounts of wheat have been cut and worryingly there are reports of it sprouting in the head already,” Mr Sands added.

“Regardless of what crop anyone is trying to harvest, the fields are very soft for travelling across with combines and trailers and, with more rain forecast, this will not improve anytime soon.

“Nothing will have been cut at very low moisture, adding into the mix a high cost of drying at a time when prices are falling.”

Wheat futures tumbled by £4 per tonne on Thursday to compound falling prices over the past weeks, making it a worrying time for farmers.

Mr Sands said: “Hopefully the weather picks up and quick progress can be made through the main part of harvest and we can get next year’s crops back in the ground in decent conditions.”