Harvest Highlights: Quality concerns in Scottish Borders

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As harvest comes to a very early finish in some areas of the Scottish Borders, the quality of wheat and spring barley have been varied. Reports show a lack of rainfall during the growing period has affected protein and nitrogen levels.

John Jeffrey in Roxburghshire said the majority of wheat had been cut in the area, having finished his own harvest on Sunday (Aug 27). Quality had met milling specification with good Hagbergs, but protein levels were at about 12.5%.

“It missed out on the top premiums as proteins were slightly low due to the dry weather.”

Crops were mostly dry but he said yields had also been hit by the drought in the summer.

Protein levels were disappointing and too low for milling specification for Stuart Fuller-Shapcott near Kelso. Having had to apply less nitrogen due to the Nitrate Valuable Zones rules, along with the dry year, he said he may have to abandon milling wheats altogether.

“It may be the NVZ rules that force us to stop growing milling wheat.”

Frank Thomson in Moray, Scotland, said spring barley was going very well but Nitrogen levels in spring barley were slightly high. Ninety percent of Optic had gone for malting but Oxbridge and Cocktail had particularly suffered. Many neighbours were reporting similar problems.

“Nitrogen levels were two or three percent too high, probably because the growth stage was not long enough due to the hot weather in June and July.”

Berwickshire grower Colin McGregor said nitrogen levels had been slightly high in his spring barley due to the lack of rain in early summer.

“The 17-year average is 635mm rain in a year. Last year we had 428mm up to July and this year we only had 227mm, so this is where our problems are.”

But he added: “We expected a lot worse so we’ve been pleasantly surprised.”

See FWi’s Harvest Highlights section for the regional reports in full and more from around the country, updated every day.

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