We finished harvest on September 20, with a field of spring oats following a decent dry spell. Ground conditions this harvest have been fantastic when compared with the unremitting wet we experienced last year.

This is the first time we have grown oats in more than 30 years after we decided to plough up a grass ley ahead of putting it into green manure cover crops next spring.

We grew them without a contract and had planned to sell them as feed but surprisingly they have made milling quality and we have managed to sell a load at £140/t. With this price, a reasonably good yield of 2.5t/acre in our poorest field and lower variable costs than spring barley, maybe we should be considering growing more oats next year.

On the malting barley front, yields were between good and excellent. One field of Laureate averaged 3.5t/acre at 16% moisture, and many other fields of Sassy, Laureate and Tungsten were easily averaging 3t/acre.

We sell our grain ahead on a presumed average yield of 2.5t/acre so we have a few surplus loads to sell. The main issue this harvest has been grain quality due to skinnings. Every field we cut had skinned grains ranging from between 2% and 15%, and we haven’t noticed any difference between Sassy and Laureate, though new variety Tungsten did seem to have lower skinnings.

Pre-delivery samples have been a very vague guide with, for example, a pre-delivery sample saying the crop was 8% skinned and the sample out of the lorry then saying it was only 3% skinned and vice versa!

The skinnings issue has also made us scared to use the dryer, as it seems to exacerbate the issue so we’re also being hit with drying charges and weight corrections. So far we’ve had one load of Laureate rejected from the maltings which had 15% skinnings but there are still five loads to leave the farm so that could well change.

Seed barley is cut, dried and tucked away in winter storage, with both the seed Sassy and Tungsten appearing to yield well, though we won’t know exactly how well until it starts leaving the farm in the spring.

Wheat yields were surprisingly good across all varieties with an overall average yield of 4t/acre once dried down to 14.5% moisture – certainly not record breaking but surprising considering all the fields had barren areas due to the wet winter.

High bushel weights have definitely been the yield driver for both barley and wheat. Skyscraper, Jackal and Westminster wheat have all been leaving farm with the Skyscraper and Jackal destined for Invergordon Distillery, while the Westminster has made C1 seed grade, therefore attracting a seed premium.

Overall grain movement has been slow but steady, though at one point we had every shed full to bursting and the outside tipping area overflowing so had to line one of our old sheep sheds with a silage pit sheet and bucketed grain into it with the teleporter.

The storage situation wasn’t helped as we had to keep a 16t batch of seed Sassy in a separate heap all harvest as an issue with the dryer overnight caused it’s flame to burn orange and sooty, rather than blue and clean. The result was a batch of black sooty grain which fortunately is only cosmetically affected with the germination being fine. Affectionately named ‘The coffee beans’, we will keep it out of the main seed pile and dress it for ourselves as farm saved seed.

Yet again our Claas Tucano 440 combine never missed a beat all harvest. Bought in September 2010 after it had cut one season in England it has done 10 harvests with us and has had very minimal repairs; aside from replacing the steps after it got driven into a ditch in the dark a few years ago, but you can’t really blame Claas for that one...!