Scots Timothy

Crop: Phleum pratense L. (Timothy grass)

Scots timothy is a premium hay for livestock. It is cultivated as a hay crop in river valley areas known as carses in Stirling and Gowrie in Scotland. There are very few maintainers of this landrace left currently (Nicolson, 2016). It was threatened with extinction after the Second World War, but a certification scheme was set up to market it. it is now the only certified landrace in Scotland. Despite this, its cultivation has continued to decline (Veteläinen et al., 2009).

Cultivation System: ND.

Geographical Information

Country: United Kingdom

Scots timothy is grown by a handful of growers in Stirling and Gowrie, Scotland. It is grown on the heavy clay soil found in fertile low-lying land in Scottish river valleys known as carses.


Farmer(s) description:

Scots timothy is known as being very palatable to livestock, and to have high winter hardiness. It is often grown in a mix with a legume such as alfalfa or red clover (Lacefield et al., 2002). This landrace is generally sown in spring or summer early cut hay is more nutritious than late cut hay (Ragnarsson and Lindberg, 2008). If planted early enough it may be harvested several times in a year.

Scots timothy is grown on the heavy clay soils of the carses of Stirling and Gowrie. It is then sold as hay and seed is also available to buy online where it is described as the ‘UKs only commercially available landrace crop’ (Grass Seed Direct, 2019).


Propagation system: Seed, cross-pollination

Multiplication procedures and consequences on landrace diversity:

Timothy is an allogamous grass crop, and it is often insect pollinated. It can be harvested either by swathing or combining (www1.agric.gov.ab.ca, 2004). Seed for Scots timothy is available online (Grass Seed Direct, 2019). If cultivated in areas other than the carse environment it is traditionally found on in Sterling and Gowrie, the gene pool may be altered.

Management plan existence:

The landrace management relies completely on farming activities in the area.

Added Values

Market - existing and novel:

Timothy hay is a historic hay variety, used for horses and smaller domestic pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs. It also fetches top prices from livestock keepers (Nicolson, 2016)

Many people are allergic to timothy pollen, and there had been some success in trials using the pollen to create a treatment (Nelson et al., 2011). Thus, there may be some market for growing Scots timothy for this area of research, though this is undoubtedly rather limited.

Others (e.g. commercial/geographical brands or special traits):

Scots timothy is registered on the European Union Plant Variety Database, which lists only one maintainer in Stirling (Ec.europa.eu, 2019). It is not currently covered by SASA’s Scottish Landrace Protection Scheme (Sasa.gov.uk, 2019).


This landrace is currently only grown by a small number of maintainers. There is not currently a great deal of interest in Scots timothy, although timothy generally is still of interest as an animal feed. There may still be a future for on-farm conservation of Scots timothy depending on market interest.

Scots timothy seed and hay are both available to purchase online. Their status in gene banks is currently unclear.

Case study provided by University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.