Fraser comes out tops in cereal contest

Fraser Middleton (front), winner of the RNAS and Fettercairn Farmers Club cereal competitions
Fraser Middleton (front), winner of the RNAS and Fettercairn Farmers Club cereal competitions

A Mearns arable farmer has pipped last year’s winners at the post to take the top award in the Royal Northern Agricultural Society’s annual cereal growing competition.

Fraser Middleton, who farms at Balbegno, Fettercairn, with his father, Jim, and son, Scott, has come out top with a 12-acre field of Concerto spring barley aimed for the malting market.

Mr Middleton came out just ahead of last year’s winners, brothers, David and Alan Grant, and David’s son, Scott, Skillymarno, Strichen, who have taken reserve spot with a 46-acre field of Istabraq winter wheat.

This is Mr Middleton’s first win in the competition – son, Scott, was reserve last year – and the same crop has also won the Fettercairn Farmers Club cereals competition to give him his third successive win in this competition. Scott this year won the awards for the best crop grown in a Less Favoured Area and the best crop grown by a young farmer in the RNAS competition.

Mr Middleton hopes to harvest the winning crop this week and is pleased with how harvest has been going so far with Retriever winter barley yielding four tonnes per acre. The family grow a total of 270 acres of spring barley, 130 acres winter barley and 70 acres wheat.

“Spring crops look as if they will yield well apart from burned knaps,” he said.

The Grant’s grow 700 acres of wheat, winter barley, spring barley and oilseed rape.

“We have finished combining the winter barley and are about to start oilseed rape,” said

Alan Grant. “We were looking for a higher yield of both barley and straw from the winter barley but harvesting has been much easier in view of the improved weather conditions compared with last year.”

Turriff-based SAC consultant, Mike Fettes, who judged the competition, said the overall standard was excellent.

“Judging proved difficult because of the high standard of the crops, especially spring barley,” said Mr Fettes. “Spring grown crops enjoyed a good growing season with plenty of sunshine and disease pressure has been low.”