harvesting wheat© Tim Scrivener

Reflection wheat growers have seen mixed yields after a challenging season; for some it performed much better than expected and was their top-yielding variety delivering double-digit yields.

The Group 4 hard wheat was the top yielder when it first entered the 2014-15 AHDB Recommended List and growers were hoping for a repeat performance this harvest.

But this spring saw concerns among some farmers and agronomists after it exhibited a higher than anticipated problem with yellow rust in spite of being rated a six for the disease on the Recommended List.

See also: Wheat growers on yellow rust disease alert

So the key question ahead of the coming drilling season is whether the variety still delivered the yields? Farmers Weekly spoke to several farmers on their experiences this harvest.

One seeing success is Philip Partridge, who farms north of Ipswich. He grew 30ha of the variety after being impressed by the trial data.

Top performer

He was very satisfied with a consistent sample which averaged at 10.15t/ha, peaking at 10.3t/ha, which was his top performance this season.

Alluding to the yellow rust challenge, he says they he did have to adjust the T2 fungicide, but the crop responded well and thereafter “looked good all the way through”.

Looking ahead to next year, he was positive about the prospects for Reflection saying that they would be trying it as a second wheat as well as a first.

“A key difference is that we will take a more proactive rather than reactive approach with fungicide applications.”

Over in Wiltshire, James Stafford was also very upbeat about the crop’s performance.

After putting in 18ha as a first wheat after oilseed rape, he found the crop to be low maintenance throughout the season, having a standard fungicide programme with just a tebuconazole booster.

It yielded 9.28t/ha which is his top-yielding wheat this season. Mr Stafford is keen to emphasise its easiness to combine, bold sample, good straw quality and specific weights of 78-80kg/hl.

Other varieties had performed worse against the yellow rust problem this season, he adds.

Further west in Somerset, Andy Fussell reports that Reflection has been outstanding, yielding 11.5t/ha with a specific weight of 76kg/hl and 14.5% moisture. He says this is making up for bad barley and poor oilseed rape yields.

Disappointing yields

However, for some other growers results were disappointing. Peter Gadd, based in South Nottinghamshire, who grew 25ha as a first wheat after oilseed rape says that it yielded 8.3t/ha off his most representative field although it was looking like a stronger crop all the way through.

He was especially disappointed to see it outperformed by Dickens as a second wheat at 9.6t/ha in spite of an additional fungicide spend on the Reflection of £17.68/ha.

“Yellow rust had thus been kept at bay with spot on timings, but it had disproportionately suffered from the wet winter weather compared with the other varieties grown.”

On the border between Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridge, Liam Pearce drilled 12ha in October following a crop of peas and an application of farmyard manure.

However, he was disappointed to find that it didn’t come in as his top yielder, with Gallant managing 11t/ha compared with 10t/ha for Reflection, in spite of getting on top of a yellow rust challenge at T0.  

Looking ahead, he is opting for more Group 1 wheats such as Gallant and Solstice for ease of management and would not be growing any Reflection next season.