Good Conditions for Scotland’s 2021 Harvest and a Great Start Made to Autumn Planting for 2022 Crop

Growers from Stirling, Banffshire, Angus, and Berwickshire report

Reports from around the country suggest Scotland’s 2021 harvest has been relatively straight forward due to long spells of dry weather, and many parts are ahead of schedule and already finished with autumn planting.  

While the results of the NFU Scotland annual harvest survey will be analysed over the next few days, initial figures suggest a mix in yields with winter wheat and barley largely having been of high quality, but OSR struggling as a result of wet winter conditions.  

Disappointingly, despite prices being generally good across the board, this has been largely offset by the huge increase in input costs from shortages of fertiliser and fuel. The current labour crisis and disruption of the supply chain has also resulted in haulage delays and seed delivery being slower than usual in some areas.

NFU Scotland’s Combinable Crops Chair, Willie Thomson, who farms at Wheatrig near Longniddry said: “Harvest 2021 will be remembered for being straight forward with good yields, decent prices and dry harvesting conditions - most of us would take a year like this every time!”

“Winter barley was respectable without breaking any records, winter wheat was very good, spring barley yield was about average but there were very few issues with quality this year which made a pleasant change.”

“Haulage mostly went well and dry harvest conditions meant that grain could safely sit on farm for a little while longer.

My own Oilseed rape was slightly disappointing from a yield perspective as wet conditions and late fronts over winter held it back, but price wise it is easily the highest value we have achieved so that helped make up for lack of tonnage. Straw was all baled in good condition.”

“Sowing for harvest 2022 continues at great pace, with progress being made while ground conditions are good. The cloud on the horizon though is our rapidly increasing input prices. Fuel prices are showing a hefty increase and fertiliser prices are absolutely eye watering - an increase of 250% in some cases.”

“The logistics of transportation with seed deliveries has also caused issues. Growers are desperate to get crops in the ground, but held up by seed being at the wrong end of the country. This has also been the cases for spare parts for machinery.”

“The outlook for 2022 is promising for all crops, but supply chain issues could be our major problem looking ahead.”

Amy Geddes, Arbroath, Angus reports:
“Excellent conditions for harvest, with all crops needing very little drying before going to store. Winter wheat and spring barley look to have yielded well despite a dry summer with final weights still to come in. Oilseed rape was very poor and looks to have scraped 0.4t/ha (1t/ac).”

“No transport issues to report as WOSR and SB went locally. Wheat in home stores. Autumn sowing is progressing well with the recent rain not setting us back too much - oilseed rape sown before September! And away from the dreaded flea beetle, fingers crossed now.”

“Oil radish cover crops in, and winter wheat sowing almost complete, though delivery of new wheat seed has been a hold up. Grain prices are strong, and will hopefully go some way to offsetting the horrendous input prices, especially of fertilisers, for next season.”

David Bryce, West Cambusdrennie, Stirling reports:
“Had the most days with no rain in a summer that I can remember. With the occasional rain being between 10 to 15mm at a time, the dryer has hardly been used this year and we have been dumping wheat straight into the shed. Spring Barley did not require drying as it came off at around the 16% mark.”

“The yields have been mixed in this area. The wet back end spoilt the wheat harvest with yields ranging from 3.2t to 3.8t an acre. Again, similar with the barley.

A cold wet May set the yields back at around the 2.6t mark after having tremendous yields the previous three years.”

“The autumn sowing is now finished and gone well. Fields are rowing up in about 14 days with no pest problems. They say no two years are the same, and that could not be truer of 2020 and 2021. Here's to a dry 2022.”

“Regarding haulage it was slow, but this came as no surprise with the lack of drivers and lorries. Malting barley price was again disappointing. A supposed quality product is surely worth more than £5 over feed. The wheat is still to sell.”

Jack Stevenson, Brangan, Banffshire reports:
“Spring barley harvest along the coast was reasonably straight forward this year, although a 10-day period of dull cloudy weather meant most barley coming of the combine at 19 % to 20 % so most of it needed a run through the drier.”

“Yields are back on last year's record harvest and the prolonged dry summer has taken its toll on the lighter land, with 2.5 tons acre being the average. Any heavier land has yielded up to 2.8 tons per acre with good quality low nitrogen and screenings.”

“Yes, we are all pleased at receiving a better price this year, but this will be quickly offset by over a £200 a ton increase in fertiliser costs for winter crops and next year's spring barley.”

“All winter crops have been sown in good dry weather at the moment and are emerging well. There is still a lot of wheat to be planted”.

“We have not suffered from any haulage issues with the uplift of grain at the moment, and with very little loads being rejected everything seems to be running smoothly in our area this year”.

Neil White, Greenknowe Farm, Berwickshire reports:
“I think almost everyone in this area would take a harvest like 2021 every year. This harvest has delivered good standing crops with average or above average yields. Moistures were mixed but seemed to improve as the harvest went on and were not the extremes we have experienced in other years.”

“Quality seemed good across the board from oilseed rape to wheat, with grain size, oils, protein, and nitrogen all reasonable, and even a decent straw yield to keep the livestock farmers happy.

Prices have risen and are at good levels, but cereal prices are realistically only at levels achieved 5 or 6 years ago when inputs were considerably cheaper.”

“Haulage has been slower than usual for some crops, but I think the speed of harvest also compounded the problems caused by lack of drivers. Seed deliveries seem to have been going out without too much delay considering the speed it was going into the ground.”

“Autumn sowing has been going full bore and without a break (so far). Most people are very well through and well ahead of schedule compared to previous years. Ground conditions are very dry, but seedbeds are great and some wheat and barley crops are already rowing up well. Rain is forecast and will be needed to help establishment but, farming in Scotland, we worry that when rain finally comes it may not stop until spring!”

Notes to Editors:

  • A selection of harvest and planting pictures from this autumn are available on request from


Contact Ruth Oxborrow on 07823 556253

Author: Ruth Oxborrow

Date Published:

News Article No.: 117/21

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