The Scottish grain harvest was ‘not the disaster feared’

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The Scottish grain harvest was ‘not the disaster feared’ as figures released by the Scottish government show Scotland had its highest cereal harvest yields in 20 years.

Rural Affairs Secretary MSP Richard Lochhead said there had been serious concerns that the wet weather would produce a disastrous summer harvest.

Mr Lochhead said: “It appears that the last gasp of summer has saved the harvest and, in particular, it is heartening to see average cereal yields increase by 7.5% to 6.9 tonnes per hectare – the highest level in 20 years.”

Cereal production increased by 346,000 tonnes between 2010 and 2011 to over three million tonnes – the highest production of the last 20 years.

Total barley production increased by 284,000 tonnes to 1.9 million tonnes; wheat production increased by 66,000 tonnes to 984,000; oilseed rape production increased by 41,000 tonnes to 163,000 tonnes.

Highland Grains and Cereals Association member Invergordon farmer David Houton, said new crop varieties and intermittent periods of good weather had aided cereal production.

Importantly, fine spells of weather in September and at the beginning of October helped farmers with the grain harvest. 

On the whole, the summer season was the coolest since 1993 with only about 10 days when the temperature was over 25°C.  Eastern Scotland experienced its second wettest summer since records began in 1910, but western Scotland experienced one of its sunniest July months since 1929.

Wet summers can flatten crops leaving them vulnerable to crows and pigeons, it can result in rain-sodden ground bogging down combine harvesters, and high moisture content in harvested grain often requires farmers to artificially dry it out – involving increased energy costs.

Mr Lochhead : “I appreciate it is not all good news for farmers, with the high moisture content leading to increased production costs and the delayed harvest leading to operational challenges.  However it is not the disaster we feared and compared to the rest of the UK, Scotland has seen greater increases in cereal, wheat and oilseed rape production which are to be welcomed.”