22 September 1995

North suffering with sodden crops

HARVEST may be a distant memory for most. But spare a thought for far northern growers salvaging near-ruined crops after two of the wettest weeks in living memory.

The rain has turned previously top notch winter wheats and spring barleys into a black, sprouted mess, says farmer Alasdair McArthur of Drummond, near Dingwall, in Ross-Shire.

"Nine inches of rain in 10 days is totally unprecedented. But weve had worse delays than this. I think it was the hot weather that broke seed dormancy.

Ideal for sprouting

"Moist, humid weather that followed was ideal for sprouting. Some roots are as long as awns."

Growers from Aberdeen to Caithness are affected, says Mr McArthur. He managed to cut 10ha (25 acres) of Riband before the weather broke. But he had to wait until last weekend to grab the remaining 20ha (50 acres). About 20% of grains had sprouted, and bushel weight fell 8 points to about 70kg/hl.

Some growers with stock are now considering baling whole-crop and treating with ammonia.