Amazing run and now rain’s welcome

With nearly 70% of his 437ha (1080 acres) of winter wheat safely in store before last weekend, John Hutcheson has been well pleased with harvest so far at Leckerstone Farm, Dunfermline.

“Up to then we’d had an amazing run. By 17 August we had half the wheat in.

We hadn’t even started it by that date last year.”

In the year to August 2006 the farm had only 500mm (19.7in) of rain.

“That’s only half what we had in our wettest year two seasons ago.

“And although the recent rain has held us up, it has been very useful for the rape, as we had sown 450 acres which was sitting a bit dry.”

Winter barley and oilseed rape produced good yields.

The former, from Sequel and Amarena, was some of the farm’s best yet.

“The moistures were a lot lower than normal, though it all went through the drier.

“At first the wheat was only just fit at 17%, but we were itching to start and it was soon down to 13%.

Since the rain it’s been averaging 19%.”

Mean wheat yield up to the weekend (all from feed varieties) was running at 9.5t/ha (3.8t/acre).

“It’s not a record, but quite close, and with what’s left – all first crops – I feel we may get near to our previous best of 10t/ha.”

First cut was a small area of November-sown Shiraz delivering just 7.6t/ha (3.1t/acre).

“But our Robigus has done 10.6t/ha and Alchemy’s only just behind at 10.15.”

Second crops accounted for only about one-eighth of this season’s sowings, Predator delivering 9.1t/ha (3.7t/acre) and Glasgow 8.9t/ha (3.6t/acre).

“It’s all been good quality too, with bushel weights of 76-78kg/hl.”

Yields, quality and weather aside the most encouraging aspect of this year’s harvest was the lift in prices, said Mr Hutcheson.

“Wheat’s already 20/t higher than it was last year, though I haven’t sold anything yet.

We’re always looking for a wee bit extra!”

Underpinning his positive feeling was the recent proposal for a 250,000t oilseed rape crushing plant at Rosyth aimed at supplying oil to produce biodiesel at Grangemouth.