Harvest hopes damped down

Even although harvest is still well on the far horizon, crop experts are sure that this year will not be a vintage one as far as yields are concerned.

Speaking prior to a series of cereals open days, Dr Fiona Burnett, crop specialist with the Scottish Agricultural College, said that it had been a extremely stressful year for grain crops.

The cold weather in April and May has been followed by an extremely wet June and crops were struggling as a result. Autumn sown crops were carrying high levels of disease and to compound that problem, farmers were finding that some of their preferred fungicides were difficult to source.

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“There seems to be less flexibility in the supply chain now and several well known fungicides are no longer available. Farmers are having to look around to get alternatives.”

The recent wet weather has also made crop spraying more difficult with Burnett remarking that “spraying days have been in short supply” with higher than normal disease levels in crops occurring where the spray programme has fallen behind schedule.

The weather this year has also seen a number of previously promising varieties succumb to the elements. But Burnett said that those farmers visiting the variety trials could see for themselves which ones were coping best with the elements.

Potato growers are also experiencing a grim time with the weather with Eric Anderson, senior agronomist with Scottish Agronomy predicting that their current troubles of a slow and poor germination will only multiply as the season progresses.

“Potatoes are a sunshine crop and the problem is we are not getting sunshine. We have severely water logged fields and the potatoes in them are slow to germinate,” he said.