ATTENTION TO detail when choosing the optimum wheat sowing date is vital to maximising profitability.

This was one of the main themes from the Home-Grown Cereals Authority‘s first in a series of sow2succeed roadshows, held in Peterborough (Dec 7), which attracted over 100 delegates.

Errors at establishment can stay with you all season and can potentially cost up to £147 per hectare, according to conference chairman Alan Bide.

“We can‘t afford to lose those sort of returns in the current economic climate. Growers must minimise establishment problems,” he said.

Selecting the best variety for late or early sowing was one key factor highlighted by speakers.

Where growers still have wheat to plant, after a tricky planting season, it is not too late to sow most winter varieties, said independent consultant Richard Fenwick.

“If you‘ve still got winter wheat seed on farm, it is still worth going ahead with planting.

“You will lose yield [compared to sowing earlier in the season], but it will still perform better than most spring wheats sown at this time of year.”

But growers should watch out for the latest safe sowing date for winter varieties and should not sow beyond it, he said.

Anyone looking to sow wheat after Christmas should opt for spring varieties, as these are faster maturing and have a lower vernalization requirement, he said.

Growers looking to select a variety specific to their own particular circumstances can make use of the HGCA‘s RL Plus, he suggested.

The package, available at www.hgca.com/varieties allows detailed comparisons to be made between varieties on different characteristics and has been updated with the 2005/06 Recommended List data.