The farming year is gathering pace here on Islay. Last weekend saw Islay’s Young Farmers running a ploughing match at Rockside on the Rhinns and soil is being broken, turned, and groomed all over the island ready for planting. In a spell of dry, bright weather, farmers are seeding their fields at the same time as our Scottish mainland growers, which is often rare due to our conditions on the west coast.
Reviewing the harvest of last summer, Production Director Allan Logan is full of praise and empathy for our growers. Against all the odds, they managed to increase the tonnage of malting barley delivered compared to 2017, even though there were fewer of them.
“Last year the weather was very challenging,” he recounts. “It was an unusually dry and hot summer, with lots of heat in late June and early July, which can burn the plant. Then we had rain, but at the wrong time; you need to get a bit of moisture when it’s growing. It was ripe at the end of August, then from the start of September to the end of October the weather was very broken for two months with rarely two dry days in a row, so harvesting became a challenge.”