Harvest 2015: Strong Scottish progress as harvest nears completion

Brighter weather allowed growers in Scotland to make up for lost time at the weekend, with the grain harvest surging towards the finish line.

Andrew Ainslie, Frontier’s general manager for Scotland, tells Farmers Weekly he saw a significant shift across the country at the end of last week and into the weekend.

“It was very wet again on Monday, but we did have a good weekend, particularly in Aberdeenshire and Kinross, where fantastic weather saw progress made at the end of last week and on Saturday,” he says.

See also: Organic winter wheat yields 9.9t/ha in Scottish Borders

Mr Ainslie estimates the Scottish harvest is now roughly two weeks later than average as crops struggle to ripen in less-than-ideal conditions.

“In Aberdeenshire I would say there is about 35% left to cut across all crops and in Scotland generally there is about 25-30% of the wheat still to combine,” he says.

Winter wheat yields have been good across most areas, although there is an issue with skinning in the malting barley.

Find out which varieties performed in your nearest Recommended List trials site by visiting our interactive maps for winter wheat, winter barley, spring barley and oilseed rape.

Spring barley harvest progress remains variable across Scotland, with some growers finished while others have only just started.

“Generally speaking though the quality is high and yields make up for poorer prices, to some extent,” he adds.

Ian Keith, Frontier barley trader for Scotland, says spring barley crops in central and southern areas of the country were about 85% complete, while progress further north was about 60% done.

“There is a big variation in progress across Scotland, but yields are better than average and nitrogen is lower than average this year.

“Quality is good generally because a lot of these crops are only just maturing now, so it is a case of waiting for them to be ready to combine,” he says.

Northern harvest

Harvest was about two weeks late for Malcolm and Rodney Foster, farming some 200ha in North Yorkshire, with the last of their wheat only cut on Sunday (20 September).

The final 8ha of Santiago was yielding almost 10t/ha, with moisture levels dropping to 16-17% at Grange Farm, Bulmer, some 10 miles north-east of York.

“We are pleased with the yield, as we are normally finished by the first week of September,” Malcolm tells Farmers Weekly.

They grow 100ha of winter wheat, barley and maize on their light loam soil, with all cereal straw baled for their 200-strong dairy herd.

Grain traders are pencilling in a 16m tonne wheat crop, with higher yields helping to offset the slightly lower crop area this season.

“Yields are generally good and quality is holding up quite well despite the delay in harvest,” says Jonathan Lane, trading manager at Gleadell.

He expects average wheat yields to be about 8.7t/ha, some 1.5% higher than last year.

The area of winter wheat in Britain fell 3% this year to 1.87m ha for 2015 harvest, which is likely to see the national crop dip back from 2014’s 16.6m tonnes.

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