SCOTLAND'S harvest has started, with some growers out on the combines slightly earlier than usual – although the majority are happy to be well set to get going within the next few weeks.

Asking around farmers from the north of Scotland to the south, the mood was upbeat and – although the outcome is as weather dependent as ever – there was every hope of a successful year.

Speaking at the start of this week, Colin Dargie from East of Scotland Farmers said he had already seen some movement in local fields: "I know of one combine that started cutting winter barley, not for crimping, just west of Perth last night.

"At East of Scotland Farmers, we expect to see the first crops cut in middle of next week, and we hope to see things in full swing by the week of July 24. There are, however, crops still seven days away from pre-harvest glyphosate, so winter barley could be a bit spread out.

"The first oilseed rape crops are being desiccated just now, so it'll be around three weeks to harvest," he added.

Neil White, of East Berwickshire, has not started yet, but is currently busy preparing to do so: "I have been washing down my combine. I think next week we will see the combines out in East Berwickshire.

"My first winter barley looks like it will cut at the middle to the end of next week, depending on the weather. Crops of winter barley look good from the road so we hope they are good when through the combine."

In Laurencekirk, Andrew Moir suggested that it was a little too early to be considering harvest yet: "My neighbour has swathed some rape and sprayed off winter barley in the past 24 hours, so that makes harvest 10 to 14 days away.

"I will be spraying off early next week, and some barley was cut yesterday near the coast for crimping/feeding at 30%+ moisture," reported Mr Moir.

Eastern areas of Lothian and Borders will be starting harvest next week, according to NFU Scotland regional manager, Kerry Clark: "Many have been trying to get the sprayers out this week, but the strength of the wind has held them back."

Commenting on harvest timings, AHDB's Gavin Dick offered: "I've not seen anything other than barley being cut for crimping on my travels north of the Forth, and crops are still being sprayed off.

"Looking at crops over the last week or so, I suspect there will be much more of a spread out start than normal, but with the bulk being towards the end of the month, unless a really hot dry spell arrives now – particularly further north. I think harvest will be early, but not exceptionally so."

NFUS president Andrew McCornick, of Dumfries and Galloway, agreed that it was mostly crimping he has seen: "There are straw bales in fields in parts of Dumfriesshire, but I'm thinking that it's barley cut for crimping. It certainly shows that the combines have had the cobwebs dusted off anyway!"

NFUS Ayrshire regional manager, Christine Cuthbertson, added: "Winter barley has started in south Ayrshire, with combines rolling near Girvan and Turnberry."