September has flown by at Ballincherry, getting harvest finished and tidied up, along with drilling cover crops and winter wheat. We finished combining on September 3, with our seed oats coming off the combine at 16.4% moisture.

Wheat, all of which is the variety Skyscraper, has been sold over the past three weeks, some which was dressed on farm and left as certified seed, and the surplus going into Invergordon for distilling. It looks to have yielded around 4.5-4.75t/acre, which as an average we are happy with.

All malting spring barley has left the farm, with enough surplus after fulfilling our contracts to sell some on the spot market, the price for which was £288/t to Bairds Malts. Our average price will be around £285/t for spring barley, though we haven’t actually had any payment information as yet.

September is always a long hard month financially waiting for grain money to be paid but we are finding this more so this year than ever with the way input costs have soared.

Fortunately I put some fertiliser on six months finance in the spring, something we have never done before, but which has given us a bit of breathing space, though obviously adds an extra cost as well.

Since combining is now complete, the harvest team has been busy getting bales chased, stacked and loaded onto lorries. Straw this year is excellent quality, with very low moistures. There are still about 1400 bales of wheat straw to go into our own carrot field and we will do this over the next couple of weeks. Usually carrots would start being strawed down around now, but due to the dry summer and autumn they are being left for a few more weeks to see if they will grow on anymore before being covered.

We have only drilled one field of winter wheat so far as we have been waiting for c1 certified seed to arrive up from England, though it has all now arrived, so weather permitting we should get it all drilled by the end of next week. We’ve decided to drill our wheat without any fertiliser, as DAP was in excess of £1000/t when I priced it. Instead we'll apply the phosphate release product we used to establish our OSR to release phosphate from the soil, which we will apply alongside the pre-em herbicide.

OSR has established well, so let’s hope the winter wheat does too. Alhough there are now showers kicking about, the ground conditions are extremely dry making drilling reasonably straight forward so far.

I have bought one lorry load of base fertiliser for drilling with our spring barley come spring 2023 at £848/t, the same product which I bought last winter for £542 and in November 2020 for £266 – that’s nearly a 320% increase in under two years, bonkers!

We’ve had a steady stream of lambs sold off over the summer and it is good to get a decent percentage off straight from the grass without the use of expensive creep feed. I doubt we will get many more straight from the grass though, and will move them into forage crops over the next few weeks.

We have decided to expand our flock again slightly, with approximately 270 females going to the tup this year, all gimmers and ewes, I have vowed never again to tup hoggs after last year and am sticking to my word!