We finished combining on August 30, in a field of Laureate spring barley, which could be described as a ‘barn burster’.

Though a good crop, it was a barn burster due to the fact we had completely run out of shed and outdoor tipping space, and had resorted to trying to fill a small, low cattle court at my Granny’s steading. We finished with the shed full to bursting, though the roof still intact, and three very full trailers with no-where to go, but at least it was cut! Our 2010 Claas Tucano 440 never missed a beat all harvest which helped us get on with cutting as planned, however, it was trailer troubles that plagued us.

Around day five of our combining campaign, a wheel fell off our Larrington trailer while it was fully loaded with 12 tonne of grain due to a broken bearing which had knawed the end of the axel. A few hours later, I then unfortunately ran over a piece of the shattered wheel bearing in the yard and punctured a trailer we had borrowed from our neighbour.

We then borrowed another trailer from another neighbour, and, low and behold, we didn’t have it half a day and it had a puncture too! This borrowed trailer was 2t smaller than our own, but it took the combine driver at least two days of overfilling it to realise this, earning him the name ‘The Ballicherry Bird Feeder’. One local thought it particularly funny to phone one morning and tell us there was a car stuck on the brae in a pile of spilt wheat

It’s therefore no surprise that we are currently pricing a new trailer, and are looking for something a couple of years old that will do for roots and grain.

Dad is suggesting he may take Mam away on a romantic autumn break to look round dealers’ yards in Lincoln and Norfolk, she can’t wait...

In the meantime, we are very thankful we have good neighbours!

We finished baling all our own straw on August 31, but still have bought straw and contract baling to tidy up, which should be done by the weekend if the weather is on our side. By the end of harvest we’ll have baled more than 10,000 hestons, so roughly the same as usual but from a bigger area.

Straw yields have been very variable across The Black Isle, Easter Ross and Inverness-shire this year due to growing conditions, and this has definitely pushed back our average number of bales per ha.

Drying was all finished by September 1, and this year we got away with only drying the seed barley and seed wheat and didn’t have to dry any the oilseed rape (OSR) or malting barley, which will be a huge saving on kerosene.

Our OSR was drilled by August 18, and should hopefully get a good start with the warm weather, though could do with some rain now, as we are still very much experiencing drought conditions.

All in all yields were definitely back on last year, but not nearly as poor as we’d imagined. Concerto has definitely been outperformed by KWS Sassy, which did exceptionally well considering the dry conditions, averaging around 7.4t/ha, and Laureate averaging around 6.8t/ha, while the Concerto only managed 6t/ha average.

We also had 10ha of Chronicle and it yielded really well, pushing 7.5t/ha average; we have previously had malting quality issues with it so we only grow it for seed.

The wheats were, as expected, disappointing, with both KWS Jackal and Motown averaging between 8.6-9.1t/ha, though they were never going to be anything but as were in some of our lightest fields which got scorched in May, June and July. As it is all seed the plan is for some of it to be dressed on farm, and some of it will go off bulk.

The next few weeks will be spent drilling cover crops and winter wheat. We’ve gone with a barley and oil radish mix for our EFA cover crops this year, and are hoping that getting it drilled early will be key to it bringing some benefit to the soil, as last year’s late drilled cover crops barley came to anything.