29 September 2000

Harvest still struggling in the north

WHEAT is starting to sprout in the ears, peas have been abandoned, and some still have spring barley to cut as harvest becomes a cut at any cost campaign in the north.

"The Borders and bits of Northumberland are absolutely terrible," says SACs David Cranstoun. "And further north, especially north of Aberdeen, things look pretty bad too."

Allied Grains Ian Keith reckons only 10-15% of wheat has been cut in Aberdeenshire and Banffshire.

"Ive never known a more stop-go harvest, and it has been more stop than go. We are at the stage where every opportunity to cut is being taken, regardless of moisture content." Wheat quality has not deteriorated too much so far, he adds.

But in the Borders and Northumberland, where about 25% of wheat is reported to be left, even standing crops are starting to sprout.

"Im just thankful it is not flat or wed really be struggling," says farmers weekly barometer grower Mathew Hanson, at Rock Farms, near Alnwick. Only odds and ends have been snatched in the past week, and wheat is being cut whenever it will go through the combine.

"Goodness knows what its going to cost us in drying charges, but it has to be taken." Good yields from wheat are the only consolation.

"It could have been a fantastic year, but this harvest is actually worse than 1998."

That is echoed by Colin McGregor at Coldstream Mains, where wheat was finished last Sunday. "Weve averaged 4.6t/acre dried to 14.5% moisture across 440 acres."

And in North Yorks growers are also grappling to get the last of the wheat in. At Barnaby Grange, near Guisborough, Andrew Brunton had about 15% left on Monday. "Its starting to sprout and weve got 70 acres of beans to do."

HARVESTGOESON

&#8226 Borders: 25% wheat left.

&#8226 Aberdeenshire: 80% of wheat left.

&#8226 Some crop write-offs already.

&#8226 Good yields only consolation.