Farming Matters: Harvest time across the UK

Barley Harvest
Barley Harvest

All over the country farmers are bringing in the harvest to feed the nation.

Disgruntled drivers may not like the queues that inevitably develop behind slow moving agricultural machinary, but if we want to enjoy our bread and our breakfast cereal this is all part of the process.

I’ve been in Northumberland and Scotland over the past few days and they’re just as busy up there.

Although the north is more focused on livestock there is still plenty of arable.

And we passed endless fields busy with combine harvesters and straw balers and watched the farmers working late into the night.

The first crops to come in have been the wheat and the winter barley (known as such because it is sown in the autumn months).

Next up is the spring barley, sown during the spring months and therefore harvested a little later.

Barley has remained a successful cereal crop because of its short growing time and ability to survive in poor conditions.

Although it’s grown throughout most of the UK it is often the dominant arable crop in the north and west where growing conditions are more difficult and less favourable for wheat.

Barley is striking because of the long spikes - known as awns - that emerge from the end of each grain and the crop is easily identifiable on breezy days in the early summer when it blows like waves in the breeze.

Each year the UK produces around 6.5 million tonnes of barley.

Roughly 1.5 million tonnes are exported, two million tonnes are used in the brewing and distilling trades and a further three million tonnes is used for animal feed.