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4 September 1998

Holiday bonus for many


MOST wheat in Essex, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire was combined by Tuesday, but plenty remained in Norfolk.

"Wheat yields are 25% better than anticipated earlier in the season," says Richard Mason of Suffolk merchant George Burlingham & Sons of Ingham, Bury St Edmunds. "We are seeing some lovely quality with good specific weight, but Hagbergs are all over the place.

"We have seen some lovely samples of peas. Overall, the crop has yielded better than it looked, with the best bits giving 2t/acre. But where they went flat or were hit by disease, yields were a lot less."

Winter linseed is not delivering the goods, but spring crops look more promising, he adds. The first spring rape has been better than expected.

In south Suffolk, Clopton Hall Farms finished harvest at the weekend with spring beans at Hundon. "Our 120 acres of Scirocco did almost 40cwt/acre, which was better than winter beans," says Chris Hollingsworth. "The sample looks nice."

In Cambridgeshire, the West Wratting Park Estate has finished spring peas, but still has a lot of wheat to do. "First wheats have produced a lot of heavy grain, so are doing around 4t/acre, and lightland Reaper has done particularly well. Second wheats are doing 2.4-3.3t/acre."

At Glatton, near Peterborough, Paul Williams was disappointed with winter peas, Froidure yielding 3.7t/ha (30cwt/acre) compared with 4.9t (40cwt) previously.

Fine Bank Holiday weather saw good progress in many areas,

most farms in the south finishing cereals. First wheat good,

second wheat bad is still a common call. But breaks are far

more variable, mainly reflecting establishment and disease

control. farmers weeklys arable team reports on progress


Winter cereals were mostly cut by Tuesday, leaving just the last of the spring wheat and barleys and some breaks.

Wessex Grain co-op on the Dorset/Somerset border reports recently-cut wheats yielding better, although quality remains variable. Bean, spring rape and linseed combining has only just started, while peas are disappointing, many growers recording less than 2.5t/ha (under 1t/acre).

Mike Hambly of Cornwall Farmers co-op still has some cereal to come. Yield and quality remain very variable, including a superb sample of Chablis spring wheat at 82.8kg/hl, 321 Hagberg and 12.1% protein. But low yield has left several members short on contracted linseed tonnages.

Pettit review

Harvest was better than expected and cheaper, too, with no drying and minimal breakdowns, says eastern barometer, David Pettit, at West Hall Farm, near Diss, Norfolk. Cutting started slightly earlier than last year and ended on the same day – Aug 22. First wheat Equinox and Consort did close to 10t/ha (4t/acre), with export quality. "But second wheat was a very black spot, take-all dropping Hussar by 0.75t/acre to 2.8t/acre." Regina winter barley was 0.5t/ha (0.2t/acre) down on last year, but is already away for high N malting. Target winter beans were also down marginally at 4.3t/ha (1.75t/acre), while Apex rape yielded close to average and is already in the ground this autumn.

Hayllor review

Barometer grower Stewart Hayllor in South Devon finished harvest with Barbara linseed on Monday. "It was generally a good harvest from a practical point of view and finished in August, which was amazing considering the weather early on." He combined 240ha (600 acres) including contract work. Some crops have fared better than others. Last Saturday 6ha (15 acres) of standing linseed caught fire (cause unknown) and burnt fiercely. The rest of the desiccated crop should average 1.9t/ha (0.75t/acre) after drying. Muscat barley disappointed, going flat early. But Hanna was generally good and wheat, mainly Brigadier, did well apart from one field of second wheat. This autumn will see less barley and more wheat drilled, all the extra wheat following breaks, including grassland.

Team effort – Hugh Annett (left) of Widdrington Farm, Morpeth, Northumberland and tractor driver Kevin King take a break to check the quality of Charger winter wheat with son Harry Annett (left) and friend Michael Harrison during Sundays sun. Rain earlier this week halted progress.


CEREAL harvest was completed early this week when the last few fields on the Marlborough Downs, Wiltshire, were cut.

Although few growers are disappointed with their yields, which on average are only slightly down on last year, grain quality, particularly of group II wheats is variable, say merchants.

By the end of this week growers on lighter land will have finished linseed. Robin Appels Chris Spedding says earlier fields averaged about 2.5t/ha (about 1t/acre). The later ones look thicker and should do better, matching last years 2.5-3.6t/ha (1-1.45t/acre).

By contrast, peas generally have been disappointing. Many of the crops handled by Banks Southern of Andover, Hants, have yielded a mere 2.5t/ha (1t/acre), 30% below last year.

One of the few exceptions is Eiffel, grown for seed by Michael Roe near Broad Chalke, Salisbury, Wilts. It produced 4.6t/ha (1.85t/acre), well above his average, largely due to two well timed fungicide treatments recom- mended by agronomist, Joss Wood.

The yield of Andrew Barrs Celica and Elan peas at Lenham, Kent, 3.7t/ha (1.5t/acre), was slightly down on last year. But his first Linola crop performed better than expected at 2t/ha (0.8t/acre).

Godwin review

A pleasant surprise, is the harvest verdict of barometer grower Patrick Godwin at Wephurst Farm, Wisborough Green, West Sussex.

"It has been a bit of a curates egg, with some good and some disappointing results," he says. "But the wheats ended up averaging more than 3.6t/acre, the same as in the past two years, which is better than I expected. And the rape at 1.5t/acre was pleasing." Even some over-thick Consort wheat after set-aside, which lodged as early as March, was upright come harvest, albeit delivering only 8t/ha (3.25t/acre). "Combining was a piece of cake. We were stopped only twice, once in wheat and once in oats, and moistures have been down to 13%, so there was less drying than usual. It has been quite a relief." Only Gerald winter oats and first-time Eiffel spring peas failed to deliver as hoped. Poor specific weight (44-48kg/hl), possibly the result of crown rust, hit oat yield.


IN the east up to 95% of crops, bar some beans, have been harvested, but westwards as much as a quarter of wheats remain uncut.

Lingrains Nigel Stevenson reckons wheat yields are about 7% up on last year, mainly due to better specific weights. But Hagbergs in Rialto have often been inexplicably poor and proteins are generally on the low side.

Barometer farmer Steven McKendrick is disappointed not to have finished at Blakenhall Park, Burton-on Trent. He still had 81ha (200 acres) of spring beans and a small area of wheat to do at the start of the week.

Budgeted wheat yield is 8t/ha (3.3t/acre). "Until recently we were averaging 3.5t/acre. But 150 acres of flat Riband on poor land 500ft up did less than 2.5t/acre and pulled us back to an average of 3.3t/acre. Its quality is dire.

"Good triazoles take some beating," he observes after a strob programme returned £57/ha (£23/acre) less than a conventional approach in a 40ha (100-acre) split-field test.

Three reasonable combining days over the Bank Holiday helped many growers in the Notts area finish, reports Brian Wells of Edwalton-based Wells Agriculture. Further west some growers are blaming strobilurin fungicides for delayed starts. "People have been pleasantly surprised with yields and quality. Some yields have been exceptional. But there is still too much to be done to be comfortable."

Riband wheat was coming off at 8.6t/ha, 1.25t/ha below normal on McKenzie Brothers Redhills Farm, Madderty, Perth, last Friday, when just one field remained to be cut.


WHEAT and spring barley are nearly done, with yields average overall, but especially variable between farms for wheat.

"Quality is pretty good, but we are seeing a lot of 10-10.5% proteins," reports James Hood, at Dalgetys Shrewsbury office. Bushel weights are well up on last year and Hagbergs are holding up so far. But all milling varieties are struggling on protein.

"There is a big variance in yields, though. It does seem to be a year where high inputs have paid off. Growers who have thrown everything at the crop have got the quality, and reasonable yields," he notes. "And we have seen some lovely samples of spring barleys Chariot and Optic."

Nearby, John Owen of Acton Piggott had just 10% of his 325ha (800 acres) of wheat left to cut on Tuesday. "Wheats have been good, averaging at least 3.5t/acre, and the best did 4t/acre," he says. Consort and Riband did well, but Reaper disappointed at 8.2t/ha (3.3t/acre).

On the Welsh border near Chester, Laurie March has finished winter wheat, but his yields, like many in the immediate area, are disappointing. "First wheats have only done 3t/acre, and second wheat Brigadier only 2t. We are about 0.5t/acre down on average."

In Herefordshire, barometer grower Steven Mackintosh finished harvest on Saturday. He is reasonably pleased with yields set to average 9-9.5t/ha.


AFTER a burst of harvesting last week with wheat coming off at 10-20%, the northern harvest ground to a halt on Tuesday.

Protein contents in milling wheat down to 6% in Northumberland may cause the rejection of up to 75%, reports Gary Bright of the Grain Company at South Shields. "Charger in particular seems to be a quality disaster, even though its yields can be quite good. Specific weights are also very variable on all varieties. We have had 64 and 72 kg/hl in this morning."

David Sandiford of Lilburn Estate, North Middleton is struggling, with only 283 of 688ha (700 of 1700 acres) of combinable crops cut. "The first two fields of Riband are nothing to write home about," says Mr Sandiford.

By contrast, Martin Webster of Brownhill Farm, Hackforth, near Bedale, is pleased. "We finished the wheat last night with yields about 0.5t up, some recording over 9.9t/ha." The combine was cutting 7.5cm (3in) ruts when taken home on Tuesday morning. Oats did well at 6.9t/ha (2.8t/acre), but barley was 1.25t/ha (0.5t/acre) down, he notes.

Wheat from barometer farmer, Keith Snowballs home and contract crops has come off in two categories – rubbish and brilliant. Some fields have done more than 9.9t/ha (4t/acre), including one second wheat. But take-all has hit some other late rotation crops including a fourth wheat. "Amistar ear sprays and programmes have paid hands down even if they have delayed cutting and increased the lodging risk," says Mr Snowball.

"We are 90% cut with two days work left," says Michael Manners, who farms near Darlington. Yields have been about 9.9t/ha (4t/acre) for first wheats but below 7.4t/ha (3t/acre) on the seconds. Malacca cut before the rain looks good quality.


WINTER barley is finished, spring barley half-way through, and the very first wheats are cut, but the weather continues to wreak havoc with progress.

"The winter barleys have been pretty awful, especially in the north," says Robin Bolton of Clarendon Agricare. Spring barley is not so bad, with typical yields at 6.2t/ha (2.5t/acre), and the first wheats cut last weekend look OK, with 74-75kg/hl bushel weight, he adds.

But less than 20% of the wheat was cut on Tuesday this week, and it was raining again.

In Co Down, Graham Furey of Castleview, Maymore, had finished winter oats and barley earlier this week and was ahead of the area, with 30% of his wheat done. "Second wheat Wasp was not good at 2.25t/acre, but Flame has done 3t/acre at 20% moisture. Gerald oats did 3t/acre, which is about average for us," he adds.

Peas dont please for Devon arable farmer Nick Roach. This crop of late-April sown Bacarra yielded just 2.4t/ha (1t/acre) at Downes Home Farm near Crediton, Exeter.


STROBILURIN fungicides may not suit all Scottish conditions, although they are being praised for keeping crops clean in a difficult disease year.

Three or four dry days last weekend turned to rain on Tuesday, with a very poor forecast for the rest of the week. That frustrated barometer grower Eric Haggart at Bailielands, Perthshire, who saw the dry days go by with unfit wheat while neighbours all around were combining.

"The only difference I can think of is that we used strobilurin fungicides, which are known to keep crops greener longer. It may be too long in a wet year."

But David Jack in Aberdeenshire insists his wheat is ripening despite strobilurins keeping leaves greener. "This has been a bad disease year and the new chemistry has kept the crops wonderfully clean. I am very excited about them and look forward to newer ones."

Alan Whiteford at Tain in Ross-shire is also complaining about a late harvest, although he used no strobilurins. "It is just the season and we are still some way from wheats and only 20% of the barley is cut in this area. Optic is doing 2.25t/acre at 1.48% nitrogen and 11-13% screenings off the combine. Landlord has given 2.4t and with lower screening but higher nitrogen at 1.75%."

Chariot screenings in Mr Whitefords area have been as high as 50%. In Perthshire Mr Haggart says Maresi has been bad for brackling, with up to 0.37t/ha (3cwt/acre) lost to the field floor at combining. &#42

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  • News


5 June 1998


USE of a border/headland disc to bring real environmental benefits impressed the Nitram Award judges when they visited Scottish finalist David Fuller-Shapcott at Sweethope Farm, Kelso.

"If every farmer followed that example there would be an enormous benefit for wildlife. There is no single thing that can have a greater effect," said judge Richard Knight, national technical manager of FWAG.

Fellow judge Richard Martin, market development manager with Terra Nitrogen UK, was also impressed with how the 13-year-old Amazone twin disc spreader had been maintained and how it was calibrated before each operation, and tray-tested for spread pattern each year.

"Not only is there a benefit to wildlife and the environment from this approach but the farmer is also saving money," added Mr Knight.

In earlier discussions, Mr Fuller-Shapcott made clear that cash efficiency, as well as wildlife and environmental considerations, was a driving force. "I have no wish to promote the growth of couch grass in the margins. It is a big enough problem here along with cleavers. It makes economic sense to put the fertiliser on the crop and not in the hedges and margins."

Changing the disc on the fertiliser spreader is kept to a minimum by spreading the centre of one field followed by the headland, and then the headland of the next field before its centre. Tray tests identify the efficiency of all discs used including the border one.

Sweethope is a 243ha (600-acre) farm in the Scottish Borders with 184ha (454 acres) of arable in a six-year rotation of oilseeds, two wheats, and three barleys (two spring and one winter). It was the first farm to gain Scottish Quality Cereals assurance.

"We are very close to the river Tweed and I am conscious that we must not have fertiliser run-off from fields. We split spring nitrogen into three doses on our wheats and the general approach has been to build the level of fertility in the soil so that we can ease off on P and K if times get any tougher.

Keeping fertiliser in the crop and out of field margins is a priority for Scots finalists David Fuller-Shapcott (left), seen here with competition judges Richard Martin of Terra (centre) and FWAGs David Knight.


&#8226 Consistent use of headland disc to benefit environment.

&#8226 Careful spreader maintenance.

&#8226 Maintenance P and K dressings protect farm fertility for future hard times.

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  • News


28 November 1997


ITS all change for winter wheat varieties but steady progress among spring and winter barleys recommended for use in Scotland by the SAC.

The hard pruning of the wheat list reflects problems with lodging, yellow rust and market demands earlier this year, says David Cranstoun of the SAC. Brigadier, Hussar, Charger, Equinox and Reaper have all been moved into the class for varieties considered less suitable for the north east.

That leaves Riband as the key variety, with support from biscuit-making Consort. Soft wheat Madrigal takes top yield and Rialto has been returned to general approval as a useful added-value group 2 wheat, provided milling specifications are met.

As for the UK recommended list, Savannah is the only newcomer, with a yield 4% ahead of Riband but limited distilling value.

Among the winter barleys Chalice wins SAC support, with a Scottish yield close to Optic and Chariots maturity. Rhynchospo-rium resistance is two points better than Chariot and micro-malting results comparable, says the SAC.

Meanwhile, Derkado has been moved to a special recommendation for distillers still keen to pay a premium for the variety, which yields 3% below Chariot. Tyne has been removed from the SAC list and Riviera regains general approval as a relatively high yielding feed type.

Good results from winter malting barley Regina have won it a full SAC recommendation and six-row feeder Muscat gets a similar accolade. New barley yellow mosaic virus resister Jewel, with a yield to match Pastoral, gets provisional approval, as does Vertige, with its Muscat-like feed yield and stiff straw.

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  • News


22 August 1997


SPRING barley harvesting is now well under way, with moderate results, and wheats will be fit by the weekend.

In Easter Ross, Alan Whiteford started a week earlier than last year and by Monday night had 90ha (220 acres) cleared. A trial field of new variety Landlord was the first cut, yielding 6.4t/ha (2.6t/acre), comfortably ahead of Chariot and Optics 5.6t/ha (2.25t/acre).

"It did not look wonderful, but was ready on Aug 13, pretty early by any standards. Nitrogen was 1.6% like other varieties. Levels are generally 0.1% higher than last year here, but you do not have to travel far to find them below last year," he says.

Further west, barometer grower Scott Adam at Kippen, Stirling, says his barley is still a week away. But he hopes to be into winter wheat by the end of the week.

"I may well cut the Encore just before it is fully ripe, because conditions are ideal for sprouting."

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  • News


8 August 1997


MIXED winter barley results from Scotland are producing more gloom than cheer.

There are worries over the future of Melanie, the main winter barley variety, due to split grains and shed heads. Mike Cumming at Lour Farms, near Forfar, will not grow it again. "It has not made malting quality at 1.96% nitrogen. I think I will move to a high yielding feed variety and concentrate on spring varieties for malting."

Aberdeenshire farmer Doug Fowlie has fared better. Three days of glorious weather saw him clear all 142ha (350 acres) of the variety. "It was coming off the combine at 13% moisture on Monday, the lowest I have known, and yields topped 3t/acre."

First reports from Berwick merchants McCreath, Simpson, and Prentice show Regina outyielding Melanie and with lower nitrogen, lower screenings, and less splitting. "It is hard to give precise figures, but Regina is providing better all-round samples than Melanie, of which only 25-30% is meeting contract standards," says the firms Gordon Wylie.

Barometer grower Scott Adam at Stirling struggled to find a day that was not overcast last week. His later Melanie disappointed at 6.8t/ha (2.75t/acre) compared with 8.2t/ha (3.3t/acre) last year. His winter oats should be harvested next week.

Around Scotland, winter rape is swathed or desiccated. Mr Cumming desiccated his Comm-anche, but green stems are still evident. "It is a great yielder but is difficult to harvest."

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  • News


1 August 1997


FOR once the west of Scotland is ahead of the east with much of the winter barley crop gathered. Yields are just shy of 3t/acre (7.4t/ha) but quality very variable.

Barometer grower Scott Adam at Kippen near Stirling started with 4.9t/ha (2t/acre) of Melanie on a heavy clay field last weekend. "It never recovered from a poor start. But quality was quite good at 1.4%N and screenings under 10%."

Dumfries farmer Ian Wilson nearly finished Pastoral feed barley, but was held up by the weather on Tuesday. Yield was just under 7.4t/ha (3t/acre).

Further down the Solway coast John McMyn says soft stems are making combining difficult. But with plenty of straw about, less will need importing from the east.

Alan Whiteford, north of Inverness admits to deep frustration as heavy local showers delay harvest. "It has been the worst summer for downpours since 1985. Reports from neighbours suggest fair yields but nitrogens anything from 1.4 to 1.8%."

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  • News


27 December 1996


BSEs shock effect on cropping is the abiding 1996 memory for Forfar-based Scottish barometer Mike Cumming. But good malting barley prices and yields, despite lack of sunshine, coupled with the comfort of having much of his potato crop on contract partly tempered the impact.

"For 97 I am looking forward to the beef sector improving. And with cereal prices as they are, we may not be ploughing up as much grass as we first thought."

There are likely to be fewer seed potatoes at Lour Farms next season. "And I shall be having another look at the varieties we grow."

Other changes in tactics for 1997 revolve around cereal mildew which is getting harder to control. "I intend to use Ferrax on all our susceptible barleys and we really must hit wheat mildew at the first signs."

There are some useful looking fungicides over the horizon, he acknowledges. "I just wonder whether we will get them soon enough."

Mr Cumming finds precision farming increasingly attractive. "But I would really like to see a package that can be used on a range of tackle. I do not want to be tied to one manufacturer."

BSE has imposed greater pressure on Mike Cummings machinery as the arable sector has expanded.

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  • News


6 September 1996


THERE is nervousness in Aberdeenshire after 22mm (0.9in) of rain last Sunday. "People remember the floods of last year and how harvest turned into a salvage operation," says Doug Fowlie, of Millhill near Peterhead.

"Apart from the deluge there have been showers just about every day for the past week. I have made a start with 50 acres but have 300 to go. It is all Prisma for seed coming off at 20% moisture and 1.6% nitrogen."

Winter rape cleared 4.6t/ha (37cwt/acre), and 120ha (300 acres) of winter barley averaged more than 7.5t/ha (3t/acre) with Melanie outyielding Pastoral.

"The Melanie was pushed for a seed contract and the nitrogen at 1.9% would have failed it for malting," says Mr Fowlie. His wheat is about 10 days away.

At Highland Grain, Inverness, chairman Alan Whiteford reports 7200t of grain in store with the same amount on members farms. "That would be 70% of the total in a normal year, but yields are high and I think there is still more than 30% of the crop to cut."

The vast majority is Chariot spring barley averaging about 6.8t/ha (2.7t/acre) at 1.57% N, with screening levels of 8.4%.

Mr Whitefords own 24ha (60 acres) of Optic pleased at 1.45% N with screenings of 5% and a yield of more than 7.5t/ha (3t/acre) dried.

Barometer grower Mike Cumming made good progress in the past week at Lour Farms, Forfar, despite heavy rain on Sunday.

"Spring barley is just about tidied up. I have only 50 acres left out of 630. Nitrogen has been consistently below 1.5%, and the 100 acres from ley I ploughed and drilled after the BSE crisis came in at 1.46%N – so I have not regretted that decision."

Chariot is yielding 6.3t/ha (2.5t/acre) but some neighbours have experienced grain cracking. "Its the first really testing year for the variety with rain after ripening and there have been some worrying reports."

In the Borders, Francis Seed, Woodend Farm, Berwick, reports barleys all but finished with wheat ready to cut if the weather would smile again. "Our crop of the year has been winter oats at over 3t/acre of very high quality all away on a milling contract."

Finishing off spring barley at Lour Farms, near Forfar, Scotland.

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  • News


16 August 1996


THE fittest looking crop of oilseed rape for six years is how barometer grower Mike Cumming describes his Commanche which was swathed this week at Lour Farms, Forfar.

"I will start harvesting the rape next week and it is looking so well I have ordered the same variety for next year," says Mr Cumming. Winter barley harvesting ended this week with yields still over 7.5t/ha (3t/acre).

Further north, Alan Whiteford, chairman of Highland Grain, reports widespread uneven ripening. And, like everywhere else, crops are late. "We started spring barley on Aug 8 last year, this time it will be the 19th."

In Aberdeenshire winter barley harvesting is under way on the lighter, land, but spring crops remain more than a week away, says David Jack, Rothienorman.

In East Lothian, Scottish NFU cereals convener Douglas Morrison reports all his Plaisant winter barley harvested at an acceptable 8.5-9t/ha (3.4-3.6 t/acre). Desiccated oilseed rape is looking good.

Further south Patrick Fraser at Orwells Farms, Jedburgh, reports Sprite winter barley yielding about the same as last year at 6.2t/ha (2.5t/acre), but with quality slightly down. Screenings over a 2.5mm sieve range from 11-35%, 10% up on last year. Nitrogen is 1.49% and specific weight 66.4-69.5kg/hl from sandy loam.

In the extreme west Gary Mitchell is very pleased with Pastorals 8.2t/ha (3.3t/acre) from sandy loam at West Galdenoch, Lochans near Stranraer. Intro suffered some rhynchosporium, taking it below 7.4t/ha (3t/acre). But with bushel weights of 64-68kg/hl quality is better than usual.

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  • News


28 June 1996


RESPONSIBLE farming in terms of fertiliser and pesticide inputs is no more than applying common sense, according to Ian Rankin, farm manager at Edenwood near Cupar in Fife.

Mr Rankin has 160ha (350 acres) of crops on the farm, which also has extensive blocks of commercial and amenity woodland and permanent set-aside. The owner is Donald Black who takes a keen interest in making the farm environmentally friendly as well as commercial.

"I have never been one for wasting inputs. Before using fertilisers I always get soil and tissue analysis done to keep abreast with whats happening in the field. Blanket recommendations are no use. They can be a long way out within a field, never mind the whole farm," says Mr Rankin.

He doesnt throw fertiliser into the edges of fields. "There is no crop or profit in those areas. We also use natural means to maintain soil fertility, like peas as a useful break crop, ploughed in waste from vegetable crops and slurry from a neighbour incorporated with straw left from covering carrots," says Mr Rankin.

"The aim is to build up a healthy balance sheet of fertility and then top up with chemical fertiliser on a little-and-often basis.

"It is fashionable to talk about responsible farming but I think most farmers do treat the environment with respect. It makes sense to use fertilisers and sprays as and when they are needed and we must get that message across to consumers," says Mr Rankin.

He is closer to the market than most with an all-arable policy on the farm and crops like lettuce, carrots and peas heading straight for the consumer. "Our records are so sophisticated that there is traceability right back to a single lettuce. We have to gear fertiliser and spray inputs to match minimum residue levels and we are completely open about what we do.

The biggest area of the farm is down to malting barley and here the careful use of inputs plus light, sandy loam means Mr Rankin has never failed to get the barley away for malting.

Records tracing the inputs used on each individual lettuce are vital to keep supermarkets happy, says Scottish finalist Ian Rankin.

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  • News


25 August 1995


MALTING barley harvest in the north of Scotland and the Borders is almost complete.

But in the south-west and parts of Aberdeenshire a common sight are fields from which combines have taken two bites round the outside and now await a few days for final ripening.

"It is not easy to be patient, especially with winter barley cleared so early," says David Jack, Rothienorman, Aberdeenshire. "Neighbours nearer the coast are getting on but inland we need a few more days."

At Inverness, however, the 32 members of Highland Grain have all but finished a record early harvest of winter barley with about 13,000t coming off at 14%-16% moisture.

On Tuesday HG chairman Allan Whiteford remarked that he had almost finished harvest on the day he started in 1994. He says nitrogen values are low with Chariot averaging 1.51, Prisma 1.55 and Derkado 1.62.

He also reports many farmers in the area having drilled winter rape. But the seed is just lying in the ground waiting for rain.

It is too dry for barometer grower Willie Porter at Arbroath to contemplate sowing rape. "It has been another week without a drop of rain, but we have had pleasing yields of spring barley from what are normally the colder, higher fields."

Chariot has been running at "2.5-2.75 t/acre" with "nice, plump grains." He expects to tackle winter wheat this weekend.

In the Lothians and Berwickshire, barley has been well cleared, wheat started and winter oilseeds sown into very dry seed-beds.

The south-west is enjoying the best harvest in memory and another week will see nearly all the spring barley cut. As he waited for the combines to roll again, Alan Stennett, farms manager at Buccleuch Estates, reflected on the effects of moisture on winter barleys. "The heavier ground yielded 7.45t/ha while on the drier fields it was down to 5.9t," he says.

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  • News


4 August 1995


HOT, sunny weather sees harvest progressing at breakneck speed.

Sea mists have protected crops from scorching sun up the east coast. But in Morayshire and the north there are reports of premature ripening.

Barometer grower Willie Porter has no winter barley at West Scryne, Carnoustie, but says neighbours with strong land are getting 10t/ha (4t/acre). Lighter land is suffering from lack of moisture and yielding nearer 7.5t/ha (3t/acre).

He has combined Bristol oilseed rape at 12% moisture. The crop "looks good" although he has no accurate measure of yield as yet.

Spring barley

Spring barley will be fit in about three weeks and seems "promising" although some drier fields are ripening prematurely. "It is the driest summer since 1976 – we have had no rain for more than a month."

In the Borders, John Seed, Woodend, Duns, has finished 100ha (250 acres) of winter barley (Halcyon and Pastoral) and is "well pleased" though the grain has not yet been weighed.

"Weve sprayed off the oilseed rape, winter oats are turning, and spring barley is ripening fast."

The only gloom comes from Easter Ross-based Alan Whiteford, chairman of Inverness-based Highland Grain. Winter barleys have been "light on bushel weight" with screenings as high as 60%, he says.

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28 July 1995


HARVEST is only just beginning in Scotland.

Mike Dagg of Berwick-based merchant MSP, which trades from Newcastle to Edinburgh, says winter barley cutting only began at the start of the week with growers optimistic about yield and quality. "But it is very much early days," he points out.

No oilseed rape will be taken until the end of the week, he predicts. But crops are turning fast. "The weather has taken some farmers by surprise."

Even so, crops are maturing later than last year, he says. "Last year we were cutting about the same time as Yorkshire. This year we are a week behind."

Further north, Glyn Whitehead of Aberdeen Grain Marketing anticipates little combining until Aug 7-10 with oilseed rape coming after winter barley. Spring barleys suffered a bit from a wet spell early on, but most crops have recovered, he reports.

"We are looking for a reasonable sort of harvest."

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21 July 1995


CROPS are as promising as they have been for many years, with disease-free wheats looking "exceptionally" well throughout the area, says barometer farmer Willie Porter of West Scryne, Muirton, Carnoustie, Angus.

Harvest will not be early, light rain last week helping cereals keep growing. Although the heavy thunderstorms experienced further south have not materialised some winter barley has lodged. Even so it should be ready to cut next week.

Spring barley looks good and Bristol winter rape is standing well and could be swathed within 10 days, he adds.

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19 May 1995


ALTHOUGH disease levels in his wheat are low, Willie Porter is unlikely to stray far from his near-routine four-spray fungicide programme this season at West Scryne, near Carnoustie.

After a very dry first week in May, variable weather, with rain and even hail softening the soil just in time for strawberry planting, has slowed cereal growth, he reports. The only disease of any significance is mildew, which is just beginning to appear. "Winter cereals continue to look very well," he says.

So much so that for the first time for many years he plans to use a "half-rate" Terpal (ethephon) growth regulator at flag leaf emergence on the wheats.

So far the wheat programme has involved an early half-rate Sportak Delta (cyproconazole + prochloraz) tank-mixed with mbc/maneb and Cycocel (chlormequat), followed by another half-rate Sportak Delta plus Cycocel at GS32.

The Terpal is likely to be applied separately from the flag-leaf fungicide, which may be slightly delayed, although not by much. "We will probably also use a head spray later on," reckons Mr Porter.

"We are going for a fairly stiff programme because the potential is high and we are seed growers – we want a good sample," he explains.

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5 May 1995


IF big is beautiful in the world of agricultural contracting, then Scottish firm DM Carnegie can look in the mirror and claim to be one of "the fairest of them all".

Run by the three Carnegie brothers – Dave, Allan and Brian – the family business employs 35 people, runs 30 tractors as well as a range of self-propelled equipment, and has an annual contracting turnover of about £4m. And that is achieved in an area which is also home to the UKs largest machinery ring, the Mearns & Angus.

But unlike the machinery ring concept, DM Carnegie is no newcomer. The brothers father, David, set up the firm in 1938-39 with a plough and thresher, and brought the first combines to Scotland in the late 1940s.

Ever since, growth has been gradual rather than meteoric; development is based on the principle that, if existing business resources cannot afford expansion, it probably isnt right do it.

The 1960s and 70s saw the biggest period of growth, when the firm introduced grain, fertiliser, fuel and agrochemical merchanting operations. These are now main enterprises – DM Carnegie has the capacity to dry and store up to 30,000t of grain, for example – but specialist contracting services still provide the core business.

Dave Carnegie explains: "Our contracting work can almost be split in two: General work, such as ploughing and drilling, tends to be carried out on smaller farms whereas the larger farms will use us for more specialist jobs."

These specialist services include crop spraying on over 28,000ha (70,000 acres) with a fleet of forward control MB Tracs and other assorted machines, applying about 20,000t of lime with four self-propelled spreaders and swathing up to 3200ha (8000 acres) of oilseed rape with 10 Shelbourne Reynolds/Fortschritt machines. &#42

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28 April 1995


HAVING missed out on frosts last week, crops on Willie Porters farm at West Scryne near Carnoustie, and indeed elsewhere in the area, are "very forward".

"In my opinion cereals have not looked so well since 1985 – I just hope we dont get a similar harvest," he says.

After six weeks of dry, pleasant weather, colder, wet conditions at the weekend were "no bad thing" to slow down the most advanced wheats. Some early drillings had higher than normal levels of eyespot and needed treatment.

Oilseed rape in the region is just beginning to flower, and winter barley looks much better than it did at the same time last year, he adds. But manganese deficiency is particularly severe.

Spring barley was sown on time in Marchs good conditions. "It came through well and is growing quickly", irrespective of cultivation methods, he notes.

Residual autumn herbicides worked "very well", but the change to cooler conditions makes him wary of applying post-emergence weed-killers to the spring barley. "I would rather see good, growthy weather."

Potato planting, as elsewhere, has gone well and is 95% complete. Mr Porter is "very comfortable" with the state of field work to date, but notes there were high lamb losses in Aberdeenshire last week.

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