Harvest started out really well at Stracathro & Careston Estates, Laurencekirk, Angus, but yields have gone down ever since.

“The oilseed rape was really good, but spring barley was only average and the wheat is pretty bad,” said manager Gordon Cairns.

Last year’s surprisingly good rapeseed yields encouraged him to change his approach to growing the crop, with minimum-tilled fields out-yielding ploughed crops by 1.2t/ha.

Instead of aiming for thick crops, he wanted an open canopy right through to pod fill, and opted for Artoga due to its early vigour and light leaf spot resistance.

Few farms have beaten last year’s rape yields, but Mr Cairns produced 5.4t/ha from 40ha of Artoga – even better than last year’s 4.9t/ha.

Spring barley averaged 6.2-6.8t/ha, and all just about made the malting grade. “It had a good specific weight and a nitrogen content of 1.6%, but there was quite a bit of skinning in the Concerto, and it was all a bit discoloured,” he said.

Beluga winter wheat was yielding about 10% below average, at 6.5-7t/ha. “It’s coming off today (6 September) at 17% moisture, and although some of it is weighing fine, the yields are below expectations.

“The light land has been okay, but the heavy land didn’t cope with the rain,” he added. “I’m glad we’ve got a four-wheel drive combine – at one point we could have entered the bog snorkelling combine championships, it was so wet.”

With 127ha of wheat still to cut, Mr Cairns was pleased to have drilled all his oilseed rape. “It’s up and looking good.” 


Crop: Winter wheat
Variety: Beluga
Area: 73ha
Yield: 6.5-7t/ha


Crop: Oilseed rape
Variety: Artoga
Yield: 5.4t/ha


Crop: Spring barley
Varieties: Concerto and Overture
Yield: 6.2-6.8t/ha