6 September 2002

Reduced drying costs help raise northern spirits

By FW reporters

MAINLY dry and sunny weather has seen an early start to wheat in central and north-east Scotland with low moisture content providing some consolation for average-at-best yields.

However, in the Borders and Yorks, yields are better and many will be finished by the end of this week.

Jim Warnock, of Perth-based merchant Meade Thom says reduced drying cost is the one bright spot on the horizon.

"Wheat has been coming in at 16.5-17% moisture, which is good because 20% is the norm in this part of the world. That has saved on drying costs but wheat yields will definitely be lower than average. I think many growers will be lucky to get 3t/acre." About 10% of wheat and half the spring barley was cleared by Tuesday in central Scotland, he estimates. Spring barley yields are low at less than 5t/ha (2t/acre) for many with nitrogen higher than usual.

"In a normal year, the average is 1.6-1.65%. But this year a number of samples have been between 1.7-1.75%."

Glencore Grains grain manager for Scotland Adrian Fisher says spring barley yields are at least 5% lower than normal and screenings have been a big problem, notably in Optic and Chalice (see p54).

For example, Nick Davidsons first 12ha (30 acres) of Optic at Milton of Clola, near Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, was on target for yield at 6.2t/ha (2.5t/acre) but will not make malting.

"Screenings were very high at 20%, and nitrogen high at 1.8%, both probably because of shrivelled grain, a result of the lack of sunshine," says Mr Davidson.

In the Borders Charlie Stewart started then left disappointing spring barley and went for Malacca wheats instead. "Proteins are fine, ranging from 13-15%, and Hagbergs high at 300-400. It is just specific weight that is a little low, from just below 70kg/hl to 76kg/hl."

He was halfway through his 650ha (1600 acre) wheat crop as of Tuesday, but near Berwick, Hughie Leyland finished wheat on Monday, earlier than ever before.

Yorks growers have also seen an early finish, agronomist Chris Rigley reporting wheat ripening 7-10 days earlier than normal on many of his clients farms. Specific weights have been reasonable but low protein and Hagberg has been common.

But Richard Beechall is delighted with his yields and quality of Malacca and Claire wheats at Field House Farm, Bainton, near Driffield. "The only thing to complain about is the price." &#42


Region % cut est (Tues)

Sp Bly Wht

Central/north Scotland 70 15

Borders 75 30

Yorks 85 85

Northern conquest… Alec Websters Chalice spring barley did a very pleasing 6.4t/ha with "exceptional" quality at Lower Reiss Farm, John OGroats. A dry August meant cutting at just 20% moisture. "That is amazing for up here."