Poor Scots cereal harvest predicted

Scotland’s 2016 cereal harvest is expected to fall 11% on 2015, with the country’s most important cereal crop Spring barley expected to fall 17% to 1.27 million tonnes, the lowest since 1998.

Oilseed rape is expected to have a particularly poor year, with yields averaging around three tonnes per hectare, resulting in the lowest production since records began in 1992, at 94,000 tonnes.

The predictions are included in the first estimates of the 2016 Scottish cereal and oilseed rape harvest from Scotland’s Chief Statistician.

“There had been no catastrophic weather condition responsible for this, just a series of less than ideal factors affecting the seed bed, growing conditions and the final harvest,” said the Scottish Government.

Scottish farms are expected to produce 2.8 million tonnes of cereals this year, including 1.6 million tonnes of barley and one million tonnes of wheat.

The total is 4% lower than the 10-year average.

The figures show that this year’s fall in production is due to an anticipated 7% fall in overall cereal yields.

The total area of land sown also fell, by 3%, with an estimated 428,000 hectares of cereal grown in 2016.

Overall yields are expected to average around 6.5 tonnes per hectare — ranging from 5.3 tonnes per hectare for spring barley to 8.7 for wheat.

Winter barley saw a 15% fall to 345,000 tonnes, and wheat fell 7% to 953,000 tonnes.

Oats fared much better, with the crop expected to top 200,000 tonnes for the first time since the 1970s.

The early estimates of the Scottish harvest come from the Scottish Government’s annual Crop Report Meeting.

“Scottish cereals are still being harvested and these figures are very much provisional estimates,” said the Scottish Government.

“Final harvest estimates from the Cereal Production Survey will be announced in December.

“Final estimates of overall cereal production are typically within 5% of the early estimates.”