The deadline for applying to the Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme (SUSSS) will be extended until 30 November 2017. The current application period is from 1 September to 16 October. The retention period remains 17 October 2017 to 31 March 2018.

The support scheme is targeted at sheep production on the poorest quality land to help farmers maintain the social and environmental benefits that sheep flocks bring to those areas.

Announcing the extension, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said he had listened to farmers and was conscious of the poor weather conditions that had hampered their ability to gather flocks off the hills and draw their future breeding stock. Despite this extension, Mr Ewing urged all farmers who wish to do so to submit their applications online as soon as possible and not wait until the last moment.

Welcoming the move, NFU Scotland vice president Martin Kennedy, who chairs the Union's Less Favoured areas Committee said: "Faced with the fifth wettest summer on record, hill farmers remain significantly behind in their workload, which would have made submitting an accurate application to the SUSSS ahead of the 16 October deadline extremely challenging for some."

Mr Kennedy concluded: "While it may appear a small change, those who are reliant on SUSSS as a lifeline support will very much welcome the Cabinet Secretary's intervention."

Market round-up

Lawrie & Symington Ltd held their annual sale of Blackface draft ewes and gimmers in Lanark on Tuesday. The gimmer section was topped at £1850 apiece for a pen of 3 from Hugh and Alan Blackwood, Auldhouseburn, followed at £1350 for a pen of 6 from Alistair McArthur, Nunnerie. Overall the 1145 gimmers averaged £150.98 (-£13.42 on the year).

In the ewe section the sale toppers were a pen of 10 from J Wight & Sons, Midlock that sold for £560, followed by another pen of 10 from Mary McColl-Smith, Connachan that fetched £480. Overall the 2945 ewes levelled at £74.92 (-£15.84).

Harrison & Hetherington Ltd sold 179 store heifers in Lockerbie on Tuesday to a top of 287.4p per kg and an average of 215.2p, while 258 store bullocks peaked at 298.1p and levelled at 216.3p.

Wallets Marts sold 1695 prime lambs in Castle Douglas on Tuesday to a top of £109 per head and 254.7p per kg to average £71.65 and 165.5p (-0.3p on the week).

The firm also sold 184 heavy cast ewes to a top of £94 for Texels and an average of £55.75, while 296 light/export type ewes peaked at £60 for Lleyns and levelled at £28.56.