Follow the oat growing season at Strathore Farm in Fife

We work closely with a network of Scottish farmers, many of whom have supplied us with oats for several generations. Farmer Neil Paterson from Strathore Farm in Fife has supplied us with Scottish oats for the past nine years, and for the last seven years he has supplied his crop exclusively to Hamlyns.

Photographer Gavin Anderson visited Neil's 223 acre farm in Thornton near Kirckaldy over nine months to record a season in oat farming.


Step

Preparing the field

Preparing the field

The field is ploughed to prepare for sowing. This buries the crop residue from the previous year's harvest and gives a clean bed for the new seed.

Oats can be planted in both spring and winter. Winter Oats like you see here, are planted in early late September/early October, and Spring Oats are planted in late March or early April.

Step

Selecting the seed variety

Selecting the seed variety

Neil keeps up with the latest trends in farming, and varies the variety of oats he uses each year to ensure that he will produce the best possible crop.

He looks for a seed variety that will produce a good yield, have stiff straw for keeping the plants standing tall, and be early maturing for early harvest.

Last year Neil chose Dalguise, a popular variety of winter oats, which offers all of these properties.

Step

Sowing the seed

Sowing the seed

Specialist equipment allows Neil to cultivate the soil, sow the seed and fertilise the crop with micro granules all at the same time.

The hopper at the back of the tractor is filled with seed which is sown in drills of around 5 cms deep with 15cm spacing between rows.

Step

Early growth

Early growth

The seed germinates two to three weeks after planting, and the oats start to grow. Growth on winter oats then stops until the spring, when the soil heats back up.

During the spring and early summer, two applications of fertiliser are spun on the crop to boost growth, and herbicide and fungicide are sprayed on the field for weed control and disease control respectively.

Step

Summer field

Summer field

Early summer is a critical period for oat farmers. The crop needs lots of light, warmth and water to fill the grains, so long days, and periods of both warm sunshine and rain are ideal. This makes the Scottish climate ideal for growing oats.

By mid summer the oats are bright green and around a metre tall.



Step

Late summer

Late summer

The oat crop is at its most picturesque in early August, when the oats start to turn golden. Then it's time for harvest to begin.

Neil tests the crop for moisture before harvest - a moisture level of around 15% is ideal for harvesting.

Step

Harvest time

Harvest time

Harvest takes Neil between a week and ten days.

The combine harvester strips the oats from the straw. The oats are transferred to the harvester's grain tank and the straw is left in the field in rows. A neighbouring farmer comes to bale the straw for feeding his livestock.

Step

Drying the oats

Drying the oats

The oats are tipped into the grain dryer where they are dried and cooled to reduce the moisture level so they can be safely stored until they are collected for transporting to the mill.

Step

Storing the oats

Storing the oats

The grain store can hold up to 350 tonnes of oats.

Typically the crop will be in the store until late October.

Step

Monitoring the grain

Monitoring the grain

Neil monitors the oats weekly, recording the temperature of the grain in compliance with Scottish Quality Crops protocol, to ensure that it remains at optimum quality for milling.

Step

Onwards to the mill

Onwards to the mill

When the specialist haulier arrives at the farm, Neil uses a fork lift to transfer the grain from the store to the truck.

From there the oats are taken direct to our mill in Banffshire, where the production process begins.

Step

Interested in working with us?

Interested in working with us?

If you're a Scottish oat farmer and are interested in working with us, contact your local merchant about becoming a supplier.

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