Worst Scottish harvest since 1985 is officially confirmed

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FINAL estimates of this year’s harvest from the Scottish Government’s chief statistician, published yesterday, have confirmed that Scottish farmers have been hit hard by the worst harvest since 1985.

Total cereal production decreased by 15 per cent to 2.5 million tonnes compared with last year due to a 17 per cent reduction in average yields to 5.5 tonnes per hectare, despite a 2 per cent increase in planted areas.

Barley production fell by 8 per cent to 1.7 million tonnes, wheat by 30 per cent to 673,000 tonnes, oats by 11 per cent to 108,000 tonnes and oilseed rape by 29 per cent to 106,000 tonnes.

“This year’s very wet weather has made it a difficult year for farmers and these figures clearly show that crop yields have suffered as a result,” said cabinet secretary for rural affairs Richard Lochhead. “The government will do all it can to support farmers at this difficult time.”

The chairman of NFU Scotland’s combineable crops committee, Andrew Moir, said the results of the harvest came as no surprise and warned of the longer term ramifications.

“With sowing impossible over much of Scotland’s arable regions, the cropping potential for 2013 is already compromised,” said Moir. “The galling truth for oilseed rape and cereal growers – and with consequences for livestock farmers in straw and fodder provision – is that production has been devastated because of the weather.”

High input costs and cash flow difficulties, Moir added, meant that the single farm payment, which the government has been paying out since the beginning of the month, is already being allocated for immediate expenditure on many farms.