SCOTTISH arable farmers, like many south-of-the-border, are well behind with their spring work and anxiously waiting for a prolonged spell of fine weather to dry out the land and allow them to prepare seed beds so they can sow spring crops.

The year is now so far advanced that there are real concerns that yields from later-sown crops will be lighter than usual.

That's always been one of the problems with arable farming - it's very dependent on good weather at seedtime and harvest - and crop failures led to famine in ancient times.

Barley is the main cereal crop sown in the spring in Scotland, with a fair proportion destined for distilleries and breweries and the rest for animal feed. While Scotland has transformed the distilling of whisky into a lucrative art form, archaeologists now believe hunter gathers started gathering wild grains to ferment into beer at least 12,000 years ago, and not for making bread.

Analysis of residues attached to six stone barrels and a trough-like vessel, with capacities of up to 42 gallons (160 litres) each, found at Gobekli Tepe in the Fertile Crescent, often called the Cradle of Civilisation, have revealed they were used for brewing beer.

The Fertile Crescent is a region in the Middle East which curves like a quarter-moon shape from the Persian Gulf, through modern-day southern Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and northern Egypt. It is considered by many to be the location of the Biblical Garden of Eden.

Archaeologists have suggested that hunter gatherers were meeting at sacred sites for religiously motivated feasts and celebrations, where they tucked into roast haunches of gazelle or other meat from game they had killed, and drank beer brewed from wild barley and wild wheat .

Because grains require so much hard work to produce (collecting tiny, mostly inedible parts, separating grain from chaff, and grinding into flour), beer brewing would have been reserved for feasts with important cultural purposes.

As such gatherings became larger, and the brew ever more popular, organisers were put under increasing pressure to provide more grain for brewing - and that seems to have been the catalyst for cultivating and selecting better grains.

Fermented grain, which sees its starch transformed into sugars, is well known for its beneficial properties, including an increase in nutritional value, also making it easier to digest.

Experts have concluded that early grain crops would have been far better suited to the production of gruel or beer than bread, especially considering that the glumes of primitive domesticated plants would have adhered to the grain.

The baking of bread appears to have been a later development.

Yes, alcohol has been a social glue in parties, from work festivals to cultic feasts, since the dawn of civilisation.

A study conducted about eight years ago revealed that most of Britain's men carry a "farmer gene". Around 10,000 years ago those early farmers moved out of the Fertile Crescent and headed across Europe, and it is thought that while they initially lived side-by-side with native hunter gatherers they ended up dominating them. As the farmers moved towards Ireland they took land and local wives and researchers revealed that around 60 per cent of British men and nearly all Irish, are genetically linked to those farmers.

The study, which was led by Patricia Balaresque, a geneticist from the University of Leicester, looked at men's "Y" chromosomes for a specific gene carried by the ancient farmers. Balaresque said the gene was transferred as early farmers would have intermarried with hunter gatherer woman as they migrated. "Maybe back then, it was just sexier to be a farmer", she added.

I agree with her, who can blame the fairer sex for mentally undressing farmers? They instinctively know that beneath his well-worn bonnet, soiled overalls and mucky boots is an irresistibly sexy body.

At the end of the day the mating game is all about the fairer sex selecting a reliable male capable of feeding her and all her children. Ordinary hunter gatherers may have offered the prospect of an occasional gluttonous feast of meat that had to be consumed before the carcase started to decompose, but farmers guaranteed porridge, milk, toast and eggs for breakfast, broth, bread and cheese for lunch and an evening meal of meat and two vegetables washed down by a glass or two of beer. From a woman's point of view it was a no-brainer.

It's all down to basic instincts and most women back then, as now, were in little doubt that farmers are so sexy, too sexy by far.