Farming News - A Harvest to Forget? Reports from the Farming Frontline

A Harvest to Forget? Reports from the Farming Frontline

05 Oct 2020
Frontdesk / Arable / Finance

Given such a tumultuous year, will this autumn’s harvest be one to blot from memory as farmers look ahead to the new season?

From an arable farmer’s perspective, the 2020 harvest is probably one to forget. With the wettest autumn in many years inhibiting ground conditions for planting, and then spring only offering a brief window for spring sowing to make up the deficit – it was never going to be a particularly memorable harvest. Farmers are now turning towards the new cycle with the hope that this first year of the new decade will finally be behind them. Displaying typical resilience and determination to get on with the job in hand, crops are now largely harvested and farmers are now looking forward to a new cropping year. The Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank agricultural team has been reviewing how their area has performed.

In Southern Scotland, the Scottish Borders and Cumbria, Regional Head of Agriculture for the Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank in these regions, Stephen Buchan commented on the diverging experiences of this year’s harvest.

“It’s fair to say that 2020 has been a mixed bag, and it is definitely not all doom and gloom. Out in the fields, it’s clear that some crops are bringing in an inconsistent harvest while others are meeting average yields or exceeding expectations, which is better than predicted given the volatile climate conditions.

“There have been some acute differences across the region, for example, Oil Seed Rape is holding up well with yields touching 2t/acre, but due to geography in some cases it is falling to 1.2t/acre. Early drilled winter wheat has done very well, even delivering up to 5t/acre, whereas late drilled wheat along with winter barley fared less well.

“Beyond the cereals, farmers are reporting that potato yields and quality have held up, and those with contracts are bringing in good returns. However, as a result of COVID-19, those farming enterprises without contracts are facing a service sector slowdown and lack of demand which is putting pressure on prices. The most positive news is that grass has held up incredibly well, and most are managing three cuts of silage with the quality looking good across all cuts."

Stephen concludes with final insights: “Farmers are now busy planting for next year and hopefully the autumn will allow for a more ‘business as usual’ approach. Now is a good time for farming enterprises to update financial projections and establish working capital requirements for the year ahead. There are certainly plenty of potential challenges with COVID-19, and wondering what any Brexit trade deal might look like or changes to farming support payments. Yet, as usual, farmers will keep working to produce high quality produce at incredible value for money – it’s what they do!”