Neil Thomson impressed by Tipple spring barley yields


As I write, not one cauliflower or head of broccoli has been cut. Cooler weather has delayed crop maturity by a fortnight, which is incredibly frustrating.

The eastern European workforce are here and full of eagerness to get going, but bitter experience tells me not to start cutting too soon or yields suffer. So I find myself inventing jobs for them to do to keep morale high. Do the maths and you soon discover employing 20 people for a day is expensive. But believe me, the farm is extremely tidy.

You may be forgiven for thinking that we have enough staff at the moment, but we are pleased to welcome David Hume as a permanent staff member. He joins us clutching an agriculture degree, which is slightly alarming because neither of his new bosses have one. He will be an enormous asset to our business.

He arrived on 22 August just as we were busy combining Tipple spring barley – destined for a good pint of London Pride. Despite its mediocre appearance it has, for the second year, out-yielded the better-looking but still satisfactory field of Concerto so far. It’s early days yet with much more Concerto to cut, but perhaps we have found a variety that really suits this farm.

Marcant, the high erucic oilseed rape variety in our group, was cut in changeable weather. However, yields were exceptionally good with some fields touching the magic 5t/ha mark with the average not far below. Let’s hope the wheat is as good.

Finally, congratulations to my daughter Becky for achieving some excellent Scottish Higher exam results. As any parent will know, you can be almost as nervous as your child on results day. My wife and I are now debating which side of the family the brains came from.

Neil Thomson farms 607ha in partnership with his father and brother from Caverton Mill, Kelso, on the Scottish Borders, growing combinable crops and brassicas. Some of the mainly medium loam is let for potatoes, and the farm also has cattle and sheep.

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