The first harvest estimate from Scottish Government statisticians on October 13, based on crops harvested by 4 October, indicating the harvest would be the highest for more than 20 years, was greeted with scepticism by the grain trade and farmers still struggling to secure their own harvest in wet conditions.
Cabinet secretary Richard Lochhead has now had to back-track after suggesting in October that the “last gasp of summer has saved the harvest” and “it is not the disaster we feared”.
It may not have been a disaster – although some farmers in the west of Scotland still trying to salvage their crops may disagree – but revised figures yesterday from the government confirm that the harvest is considerably less than forecast in October.
Final estimates indicate that total production of cereals and oilseed rape at 2.856 million tonnes is 135,000 tonnes (4.9 per cent) higher than last year compared with the 346,000 tonnes (12.7 per cent) increase forecast two months ago.
However, far from chastened, Lochhead last night welcomed the revised figures as “an excellent result”.
“Despite the wet summer, Scotland has managed to harvest the fourth-highest yield in 20 years,” he said. “Some of the later harvested crops had lower yields due to difficult harvesting conditions. It is good news that the final estimate of cereals and oilseed rape are up on 2010.”
“Credit must be given to our farmers who faced challenging conditions to produce a successful harvest,” he said. “But it is not all good news for farmers with the high moisture content of crops leading to increased production costs.”