21 September 2001
Harvest 2001: Scots barley ‘disaster’

By Tom Allen-Stevens

THE Scottish spring barley crop continues to cause concern, although the market for malting barley remains depressed.

At Highland Grain near Inverness, Simon Barry reports more than a third of spring barley is being rejected for skinned grains. Usually this is less than 10%.

Jim Lofthouse at Eildon Grain in the Borders confirms it hasnt been a good year for spring barley,: “Its split, its skinned and theres a fair bit of fusarium.”

More than 50% has failed, which is much more than usual, he reports. “Its a bit of a disaster. Very little is making decent malt.”

Wheat, at least as far as quality is concerned, is much more of a success story.

“Even on the group three wheats weve barely seen bushel weights below 72kg/hl, Hagbergs are above 250 and the proteins good.”

Ian Ogilvie, who farms at Barns of Craig Farm next to Montrose Bay, has achieved his target of 10t/ha average yield he has missed for two years.

“Considering the wet winter I think theyve done very well. Less plants came through but they tillered well.” He finished harvest three weeks ahead of schedule.

East Lothian growers have had a harder time. Average yields of 12-13t/ha for a first wheat have been pegged back to 9.5-10t/ha this year.

Haddington grower James Cunningham believes the weather hampered crop progress: “They were sown late and didnt root at all well in that severe winter.”

Hes also a little disappointed with his spring barley. Its made malting grade, but no one wants to buy it at present.

“The maltsters arent taking any at the moment and its proving really frustrating. Im pleased that the qualitys there, at least, but the price is pretty shocking.”

Highlands Simon Barry blames stock levels. “Malsters have a huge carry-over from last harvest. Theyre taking what they can from harvest but theyre not worried.”

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