Rain makes for dreadful harvest near Elgin

Martin Bridges is having a dreadful harvest at Moray Estates, Elgin, Morayshire, with torrential rain damaging crops and making the ground too wet to travel on.

“It’s absolutely awful,” he said. “On the Sunday following Hurricane Bertha I reckon we had four inches of rain in 12 hours, and we’ve had thundery showers ever since.”

Another 8mm of rain fell yesterday afternoon (17 August), and the forecast showed little sign of let up. “Some people’s crops have gone really flat. Ours hasn’t yet, but it’s really tangled and mangled.”

Mr Bridges had just finished combining winter barley and oilseed rape, and started in the spring barley as the weather broke.

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“We managed to cut 40ha of spring barley before the rain, and another 60ha on Saturday, so we’ve got another 344ha to go.

“The yields and quality are still good – it survived the initial deluge but it really needs to dry up now or we will start to see pre-germination,” he said. “At least it’s quite cold – 12º at the moment – which will slow that process down a bit.”

Expower, Compass and Temple oilseed rape had yielded very well, with Cracker proving the poor relation, added Mr Bridges. “Overall, the rape has averaged 4.7t/ha across 205ha, which is much better than normal.”

Volume winter barley was also pleasing, at about 7.9t/ha.

“We’re nearly halfway through harvest, and need a good two weeks to get up to speed,” said Mr Bridges. “We’re still two weeks ahead – normally we’d only just be starting spring barley now, so there’s still time as long as the weather bucks up.

“Unfortunately the rain came at just the wrong time – the wheat is on its knees and it’s too wet to cultivate stubbles. I’ve never known anything like it.”