Bere Barley Begins Again for 2017


An update from our partners at the Agronomy Institute of Orkney College UHI, Dr Peter Martin, about the sowing of this year’s bere barley crop.

PM: “The past winter was mild but wet which meant that we were only able to finish ploughing at the end of March. April continued to be very wet but, with help from our local agricultural contractor, we managed to finish planting most of our fields in a brief spell of dryish weather between 18 and 22 April. Two days after this, the fields were covered in snow!

“This year, the Orkney Bere supply chain is aiming to expand production and is planting more than 30 hectares of the crop. Growers Sydney Gauld (Quoyberstane Farm, St Ola) and Magnmaus Spence (Northfield, Burray) have been joined by Mhari Linklater (Inganess Farm, St Ola). The Institute has also put two new fields down to Bere, one on Weyland and Watersfield Farm [seen below] and the other at Muddisdale on the edge of Kirkwall.

sowing bere at Quoyberstane again

“We have a very good working relationship with our growers and have been working with Magnus since 2003 and Sydney since 2007. Bere does not require a lot of inputs and this fits in well with Magnus, who farms organically. It also suits Sydney who is a keen naturalist and likes to encourage biodiversity on his farm. Mhari joined the supply chain last year and has exposed fields which overlook Inganess Bay, the wreck of a second world war blockship (the Juniata) and Kirkwall airport.

“The supply chain grows Bere on some very different soil types. The fields at Weyland, Inganess and Quoyberstane are clay loams and we were very lucky to get these planted before the return of very wet weather. Muddisdale has lighter soil, while the fields at Burray are quite sandy. The range of soils is useful because it means that planting and harvesting is usually spread over several weeks, rather than all happening at the same time. This is especially important at harvest because we can only dry 10 tonnes of grain at one time and each batch can take the whole day to dry.

“Usually, the fields at Burray are the first to be planted and harvested.”

Read more about what makes bere barley different here >

See lots more about our latest bere barley release here >

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