Despite incessant rain for much of the winter and a long, dry spring for many, first cut silages appear to have held up better than expected in terms of yields although second cut will very much be dependent on if, when and how much rain arrives this week, going by several of the country's top producers.

North of Scotland winners, William Willis, his brother Angus and their mother Anne, Glasgoforest, Kinellar, Inverurie, always thought first cut yields would be back due to the dry spring, which coupled with the cold winds and frost, restricted grass growth on their organic dairy farm, throughout much of March, April and May.

"We did expect yields to be back because it has been unusually dry for this time of year and it has been so cold," said William.

"It only really started to heat up here a couple of days before we started cutting on Sunday, May 17, and yields must be back about 15% from our 150acre cut. It's not too concerning because we have got some carry over from last year and we've harvested it a week earlier than normal so the quality should be good."

But while this regular winning producer takes up to three cuts every year to ensure adequate feed supplies for the business' 150-cow Holstein herd, William admitted, the lack of rainfall is concerning for this time of year. In saying that, he added that they have experienced drier weather at this time of year.

Last year's North of Scotland finalists and first time competitors, Brian Mitchell and his father John, Hawkden, Gamrie, Banff, also admitted the weather has been extremely dry for growing grass, but that it is 'not a drought situation yet.'

Brian added: "We've had an eight acre field shut off all winter for silage, and a further 30acre running with lambing ewes on it which was only shut off three weeks ago, but it's starting to bulk up now. It has been one of the driest springs we've seen in recent years, but we put the first fertiliser on at the beginning of April and a top up dressing 16 days later and the grazed fields are catching up fast so we'll likely be cutting mid June. We desperately need rain but I do think yields will be ok," added Brian.

In contrast, regular East of Scotland dairy winner, Rob Shanks, Queenscairn, Kelso, reckons his first cut could be slightly wetter this year, going by the results from his contractor who uses a self-propelled forage harvester. It recorded yields of 6tonnes per acre, with a 12.5% protein and a 30% dry matter from the 270acres of organic ground harvested.

"That's about our usual yield for first cut and it looks a decent enough crop although it might be slightly wetter than last year," said Rob whose first cut for his 200-cow Holstein herd was harvested May 20-22.

This was achieved mostly from the liquid portion of the slurry which was applied at 4000gallons/ha on March 20, along with rock phosphate (gafsa) and 5kg of sulphur which is deficient at Queenscairn.

He added that the farm, which has more or less been organic for 10 years, normally analyses the nutrients in the liquid portion of the slurry before applying it, and is able to reduce the weed burden by adding cereals into the rotation.

Having applied a further 4000g/ha of liquid slurry to his harvested first cut fields, Rob is hopeful second cut will also recover. Again, he is also grateful to having excess in the pit from last year ... Just in case.

Other regular winners, Brian Weatherup and son also Brian, Parkend, Crossgates, Fife, have also seen comparable first cut results, albeit in two halves.

The duo who run one of country's top show winning dairy herds, endured a 'terrible start to the year,' with a serious amount of rain which affected a newly reseeded grass field. Add to that a cold, dry spring, which affected overall grass growth, and the boys had mixed feelings about their first cut until it was harvested.

"We had no real heat to grow grass here up until the end of May, but overall yields look fine and I'd be disappointed if the quality isn't there," said Brian.

"We harvested six days later than we normally would, on Tuesday, May 19, but I've seen us cutting anywhere between May 2 and May 20. We had such a wet winter, it did affect our young grass field, but in saying that, our wholecrop looks tremendous," he added.

More worrying, East of Scotland beef winners, David Black and son Robert, Drochil Castle, West Linton, have seen first cut yields back 10-15% as a result of the cold, dry spring.

"We cut a week earlier this year, purely because the grass was burning up in front of us it was that dry," said David.

"We cut on May 8 and harvested on May 9, and although it filled the pit, there won't be the yield although it should be of better quality."

Growth was also hampered by frost, with second cut already affected.

"Normally our grass would green up within 24 hours when it's cut so early, but it took a week this year when it's been so frosty," added David who pointed that their second cut is also starting to burn up.

Further south, regular winner, David Yates, Meikle Firthhead, Dalbeattie, who won the award for attention to detail in last year's South west Scotland silage competition, said the Stewartry area had been lucky, with most farms achieving similar yields to 2019.

Mr Yates who also does a lot of contract silage work in the area added that this is the second year he has used a silopacter fitted to a tractor in the pit, which he said has helped consolidate the crop more thereby allowing better fermentation, reduced wastage and better quality silage for livestock to eat. This in turn saw last year's winning silage sample produce a 37%Dry Matter, with a D Value of 75.8 and an ME of 12.3MJ per kg of DM.

It's not been as dry in Ayrshire as 2018 either, going to silage contractor, James Mair of W and J Mair, Cumnock.

"Yields were back earlier in the season, but they weren't down as much as we thought they'd be, and since we had all that rain a fortnight ago, they've really bulked up," said James.

"Two years ago we had customers wanting us to take water from their local rivers and burns to spread onto silage fields and we've not had any of that this year. Most crops being harvested now will produce about average yields or just below it," he said.