“It may be the NVZ (Nitrate Vulnerable Zones) rules that force us to stop growing milling wheat,” said Scottish Borders grower Stuart Fuller-Shapcott, near Kelso. Having had to apply less nitrogen to the crops meant protein levels were disappointing and too low for milling specification.
Yields were average to disappointing. “They were patchy. The land is fairly heavy so I thought they would be better.”
Twenty-four hectares (60acres) remained of first wheats Solstice and Malacca, and second wheat Einstein. Some had come in at 9.75t/ha (3.9t/acre) while others were at 7.5t/ha (3t/acre), with the average below the 8.75-9t/ha (3.5-3.6t/acre) 20-year farm average. He said Einstein had been particularly disappointing.
“Our problems this year were the Nitrogen findings and the dry year, so even the later nitrogen never got up the roots to the ear.”
Mr Fuller-Shapcott said this was a problem in the area, with neighbours reporting disappointing protein levels.
“It is principally due to less nitrogen. We’ve opened negotiations to see whether we can change the rules because we can now prove nitrogen is needed. We may have to abandon milling wheats all together – there’s no point in suffering.”
Most winter wheat had been cut in the area and he expected to start cutting Paragon spring wheat after finishing the last of the Einstein within a day.
He added: “We’ve had oilseed rape drilled about a fortnight. It went in a week early but we hope by putting it in early it may not need any nitrogen. I’m putting slug pellets on as we speak after rain last night!”
• Crop: Winter wheat
• Variety: Solstice, Malacca, Einstein
• Area: 24ha remaining
• Yield: 7.5-9.75t/ha
• Quality: Low protein