Ron Duncan

2 February 2001

Ron Duncan

Ron Duncan farms 222ha

(550 acres) in partnership

with his wife and eldest son

at Begrow Farms, Duffus,

Elgin, Moray. Crops include

winter wheat, spring barley,

swedes and beetroot,

alongside a pedigree

Limousin suckler herd

THIS month I had to have words with the Farmer Focus editor for his choice of deadline: Jan 25, the birthday of our national bard.

Did he not know I was presiding over the Elgin Burns Club Dinner?

I had great intentions of writing my report earlier in the week, but "The best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft aglee". Hence, I am writing this very early in the morning!

We have had a truly glorious start to the new year with frost and just a covering of snow in some areas since Christmas week. Apart from the odd frozen pipe in cattle troughs the frost has done a lot more good than harm. I believe frosty weather in January is healthy weather for both crops and livestock and the month has flown by.

But our first shower of rain in 2001 fell yesterday as the frost was coming out, suddenly making it difficult to travel. The frozen ground had allowed us to apply FYM to stubble, and P and K to winter wheat. But no chemicals have been applied yet and I fear the annual meadow grass in the min-tilled field could become a real problem. Huge numbers of greylag geese are adding to the problem and a third of the field looks a bit sad. Why is the wheat so much tastier to them than the young meadow grass?

What really worries me is the potential surge into spring barley. You fellows in the south should go for big yields of feeding barley and leave the malting market to us needy souls in the north. I also urge all Scottish growers to write to your MP and demand that we also receive subsidies for growing lupins for the protein market. It looks right for us.

A boatload of imported AN has just docked nearby and, while we will have to make room indoors for it, I could not resist the price tag of £112/t in 0.5t bags. &#42

"Whats that? N for £112/t? Ill have some of that," says Morayshire grower Ron Duncan.

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