Arable advice after dire harvest season

Sowing Spring Barley.
Sowing Spring Barley.

COLLEGE experts are offering free advice to arable farmers making cropping plans for the year,

The Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) workshop takes place at The Lodge, Carfraemill on Wednesday.

Harvesting Barley.

Harvesting Barley.

A college spokesperson said: “With hardly a dry day during the prolonged harvest season, getting the crop cut, dried, stored and marketed was no easy task. In some areas, a later-than-expected harvest ruined plans to get a new crop sown before the winter, leaving more work in the spring and possible congestion at harvest.

“Growers in the south of Scotland may have fared better than those further north but the choices about which type of grain to grow, which variety and how much, are equally difficult.”

The workshop has been organised by SAC and the levy-funded specialist cereals and oilseed body HGCA.

Speakers will present the latest findings of research into cereals and oilseeds funded by HGCA and the Scottish Government.

The spokesperson continued: “Disease continues to be a major challenge and this year SAC plant pathologist Dr Neil Havis will give growers a very special view of diseases, such as ramularia leaf-spot that they will never have seen before.

“Photographs taken during some new research and using various microscopes, will show how particular diseases enter and live inside attack plants. It will give a better understanding of how best to control them and new understanding of why diseases are able to become resistant to control measures so quickly.”

SAC cereals expert Dr Steve Hoad will focus on the choice of varieties available and suggest three new spring barleys of particular interest to farmers growing for the malting trade (used to make whisky) are likely to be Odyssey, Chronicle and Overture, which proved to be high yielders in growing trials.

Dr Hoad said: “Winter wheat growers will also be interested in Horatio. It appears to be less prone to sprouting in the head, something that happened a lot in damp, muggy weather of this summer and lowers the value of the crop”.

HGCA’s crop nutrition research manager James Holmes will focus on crop nutrition and getting the best out of inputs.

The spokesperson said: “The high cost of artificial fertilisers and new environmental concerns make it doubly important to avoid waste or polluting run-off.

“Many growers in Scotland also raise cattle and their dung or slurry makes a significant contribution to soil fertility.

“The good management of soil has traditionally involved crop rotations so Dr Fiona Burnett and Ian Bingham of SAC will consider how oil seed rape best fits the system.”

The free event, supported by the Scottish Government, starts at 10am. For more information and to book online visit www.hgca.com/events or call 024 7647 8724.