Cereal success for Mearns farmer

Winner of this year's Royal Northern Agricultural Society crop competition, Fraser Middleton, left, with his father, Jimmy, and son, Scott
Winner of this year's Royal Northern Agricultural Society crop competition, Fraser Middleton, left, with his father, Jimmy, and son, Scott

A Mearns farmer is the winner of the Royal Northern Agricultural Society’s cereal growing competition for the third time in recent years.

The crop of Laureate spring barley by Fraser Middleton, of Balbegno, Fettercairn, was assessed as a growing crop and is destined for the malting market, having lived up to expectations, producing a yield of 3.8 tonnes/acre when combined earlier this week.

The winning crop came out top in competition with 67 crops entered from 27 farms in the annual competition sponsored by Agrii.

But, in common with other crops around the North-east, specific weight this year is lower due to the wet summer weather and lack of sunshine, ranging from 61—63 kg per hectolitre (HLW) compared with 65-76 kg HLW achieved last year by Mr Middleton’s reserve winning crop, with both skinnings and screenings slightly higher at 3-8%.

He said: “Overall, the crop has yielded well and we combined it in excellent conditions earlier this week.

“The grain was coming off the combine at an average moisture of 15.5% which enabled us to deliver direct to DM Carnegie’s grain store straight from the field without the need for drying or double handling.”

Mr Middleton said the convenience of the store was “worth its weight in gold” to farmers in the Howe o’ the Mearns and paid tribute to Brian Carnegie and his nephew, Derek, who are ‘holding the fort’ while Derek’s father, Dave, is in the USA to compete in this weekend’s World Ploughing Championships.

He added: “With higher yields and higher capacity combines and fewer lorries about, moving grain at harvest time is becoming a real problem in some area. Mearns farmers are lucky to have this store on their door-step.”

Mr Middleton, his father, Jimmy, and son, Scott, specialise in growing cereals on their all-arable unit which extends to 580 acres and comprises Balbegno and nearby Cauldcots.

Runner-up was a crop of Propino feed barley from former winner, Alan Grant, of Skillymarno, Strichen,