Spring barley suffering near Nairn

Hamish Forbes has barely started cutting spring barley at Lockdhu Farm, Nairn, Morayshire, and is extremely concerned that quality is starting to fall.

“The weather has been really bad – we managed to cut a neighbour’s spring barley on Saturday (16 August), which was the first time we’d got on since the tail end of Hurricane Bertha, and now it’s raining again,” he said.

“Quality is really deteriorating – the crops are very flat and although the barley isn’t sprouting yet it is very discoloured and trying to split.”

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Mr Forbes was growing 142ha of spring barley for malting, so quality was particularly important. “The high nitrogen varieties are particularly flat because they’re higher yielding.

“Ground conditions are also becoming a bit problem – where fields have been harvested they’re getting tracked and there’s water lying in them,” he added.

“The crops were looking so promising, is just so disappointing. I’m really quite glum about it.”

On the plus side, Mr Forbes’ winter barley had been excellent, yielding 8.6t/ha. “It was Glacier and it all came off at 13-14% moisture, so we’re really pleased with that.

“Another saving grace is that it’s got a lot cooler, which has probably saved a lot of the barley from sprouting too quickly.”

Farmers in the area had not managed to cut an awful lot, and all the crops were now going to be ready at once, he added.

“We’ve got a dry window forecast over the Bank Holiday, but then it’s meant to turn wet again. We haven’t got any wheat at home, and I haven’t heard of anyone cutting it yet locally, but it will be just about ready now.”