Harvesting Underway

Harvesting next to Gartbreck with Bruichladdich Distillery visible on the other side of Loch Indaal on Islay

We started to harvest the barley at Gartbreck on Monday only to find the endrows were a bit too green and not really ready yet – this grain went into the duck pond!  The rest of the field was then cut on Wednesday and Thursday with moisture levels just below 20% – hopefully this will be suitable for malting.  The Ardlarach field is a bit patchy – we’ll have a go at harvesting the riper areas over the weekend and then see how the greener bits look.  It is quite likely that they will not be ripe enough so we’ll either keep the grain aside for feed or make a whole-crop silage.  As a very last resort we may have to cut our losses and leave the standing crop to be topped and the grain left on the ground.  This will be great for the geese and at least the field works have achieved the aim of cleaning weeds out and restoring fertility to the ground.

So why the late germination?  My hunch (based on very little experience) is that the ground is too acidic.  However it is possible that the combination of grazing by deer, geese and hares as well as some insects (probably leatherjackets) may have caused areas of the crop to grown late and hence be a month behind some of the other barley.  We’ll sample the field and take it from there.