This year’s harvest is the worst John Hutcheson can remember at Leckerstone Farm, Dunfermline, Fife, with some crops likely to be abandoned for the first time ever.
“It’s not going well at all – it’s even worse than 2008,” he said.
“The main reason is that our crops were so late in ripening, and we’ve had very few weather windows in which to cut.”
Of 486ha (1200 acres) of wheat, Mr Hutcheson still had 154ha (380 acres) to combine, much of which was starting to sprout.
“It’s been a real struggle – we’ve cut no wheat under 20% moisture, and plenty at 25% or higher, which causes all sorts of problems with the machinery.”
The aftermath of Hurricane Katia knocked 15-20% of the grains out of the remaining wheat, with Viscount and Istabraq particularly badly affected, he added.
Yields in the early cut wheat had been good, at about 9.4t/ha (3.8t/acre). “But there are some fields which I think we’re going to have to abandon, for the first time ever.
“This is certainly going to be the best harvest there never was.”
Mr Hutcheson had not been able to combine since 10am on Friday (16 September), when rain ended a 24-hour stint.
“I don’t know if we’ll get a lot done this week, either, looking at the forecast.” As well as the wheat, he also had 100ha (250 acres) of spring oats and 50ha (120 acres) of beans to cut.
With a tracked combine, the ground was still alright to travel on, but with 10-20% of the Viscount already sprouting, the crops would be difficult to process.
“And it’s only going to get worse. I’m normally not a pessimistic person, but at the moment there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Crop: Winter wheat
Varieties: Alchemy, Viscount and Istabraq
Yield: <9.4t/ha (3.8t/acre)
Crop: Winter barley
Yield: 8.9t/ha (3.6t/acre)
Crop: Oilseed rape
Variety: Cracker (on good ground)
Yield: 3.7t/ha (1.5t/acre)
Variety: Cuillen (pigeon damaged)
Yield: 2.5t/ha (1t/acre)