Brexit and the weather are blighting the harvest

Brexit worries, tariff concerns, mixed weather and high drying costs are blighting what promised to be a great harvest in Scotland.

By David Walker
Friday, 23rd August 2019, 2:04 pm
Finally a dry day for Neil White at Greenknowe Farm as he manages to finish the oilseed rape. See more pictures on Instagram at
Finally a dry day for Neil White at Greenknowe Farm as he manages to finish the oilseed rape. See more pictures on Instagram at

NFU Scotland growers around the country have been reporting some success with winter barley and small amounts of oilseed rape.

However the recent poor weather means harvest for rape, wheat and spring barley will now have to be squeezed into the next available weather window and when ground conditions for machinery improve. Sowing winter crops of oilseed rape, wheat and barley may also be delayed.

Most grower are also resigned to drying costs, coming at a time when prices are falling, input costs are rising, and Brexit brings the threat of ‘no deal’ and an unfair playing field on import tariffs.

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Reports have been received from growers in Perthshire, Berwickshire, Ayrshire, Dumfries & Galloway, Aberdeenshire, Kincardineshire, Angus and Fife.

NFU Scotland’s Combinable Crops Chairman Ian Sands, who farms at Balbeggie in Perthshire said: “Growers the length and breadth of Scotland all seem to be in the same boat as we watch the promise of a very good harvest falter in the wet weather.

“Regardless of what crop anyone is trying to harvest, the fields are very soft for travelling across with combines and trailers and, with more rain forecast, this will not improve anytime soon.

“Nothing will have been cut at very low moisture, adding into the mix a high cost of drying at a time when prices are falling. Wheat futures tumbled by £4 per tonne on Thursday to compound falling prices over the past weeks, making it a very worrying time now.

“The feared Brexit speculation that prices would fall is not speculation anymore - it is a reality.

Neil White, of Greenknowe, Duns, Berwickshire, said: “Harvest is progressing but at a very slow pace. Cutting decisions are made by the forecast and the potential deterioration in grain quality rather than moisture. Some oilseed rape is beginning to sprout, especially in the lying patches. Thursday (August 15) was a dry day and everyone was cutting, winter barley and rape were the priorities with a few moving into wheat. Some early wheat is also at risk of sprouting and if the weather improves it will be cut regardless of moisture and the added expense of drying will be accepted over quality issues.

“Spring barley is almost ready, and we are all hoping the weather will change considerably as we need drier crops. I still have winter barley straw lying from three weeks ago. The amount of straw chopped has increased already and will continue to rise as wet ground conditions and mixed forecasts make baling and clearing fields almost impossible. It is not all gloomy as the crops cut are good but remaining ones are deteriorating in the wet and the bulk of harvest is still to come. I hope by complaining about the wet, this will somehow change the weather for the better and you will wonder what all the fuss is about! Here’s hoping.”