Wheat being harvested© Will Selby

Wheat growers from northern England, Scotland and Denmark scooped the top awards in an Adas yield competition due to better June sunshine levels than further south.

Northumberland grower Shaun Watson saw the highest yield with a wheat crop of 12.8t/ha in Adas’s Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) in a generally disappointing year for yields due to the lack of summer sun.

Farming near East Holywell on the north-eastern edge of Newcastle upon Tyne, he won the gold award for top yield and also picked up the best potential yield award with 64% of his theoretic maximum.

Growers from Scotland also did well on their potential yields while Danish growers along with advisers Seges dominated the trials section with plot yields which reached as high as 13t/ha in the Yen awards meeting on 24 November.

See also: Wheat yield world record shattered in Lincolnshire

This is the fourth year of the competition, which was launched in 2013 to identify and support growers and farming groups who are innovating to raise crop yields. This year there were entries from the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Roger Sylvester-Bradley, head of crop performance at Adas, said crops were doing well until May with plenty of water available, but then they were hit by dull weather in the early summer.

Lack of light 

“Lack of light energy in June particularly in the East, inhibited grain formation so crops with good potential were held back,” he added.

Average yields in the competition were only 10.3t/ha, below levels seen in the past three years of YEN and well below Tim Lamyman’s 16.5t/ha winning entry last year.

Mr Lamyman’s crop grown on the Lincolnshire Wolds broke the world wheat yield record briefly before being pipped a few weeks later by Rod Smith’s 16.52t/ha crop grown in north Northumberland.

Prof Sylvester-Bradley pointed out that June was less dull in northern England, Scotland and Denmark so growers were not as unlucky with the weather as those further south.

“This probably explain why there were many YEN entrants from the North among our winners,” he said.

Second in the yield stakes came Matthew Baker from Ilketshall St Margaret, just south of Bungay in Suffolk with a wheat yield of 12.5t/ha, and third was Lincolnshire grower David Hoyles with 12.2t/ha

Mr Hoyles farms close to the edge of The Wash in the south-eastern corner of the county, and says sunlight levels in June 2016 were 40% down on 2015 when his top wheat yield was 15.6t/ha.

Award winners for the Yen competition 2016 – field entries

Best field yield

t/ha

Gold: Shaun Watson, East Holywell (sponsored by Bayer)

12.8

Silver: Matthew Baker, Ilketshall St Margaret (sponsored by Hutchinsons)

12.5

Bronze: David Hoyles, Lutton, Lincs (sponsored by Hutchinsons)

12.2

Best % of potential yield

% of t/ha

Gold: Shaun Watson, East Holywell

64% of 19.9

Silver: David Fuller-Shapcott, Kelso (sponsored by BASF)

63.5% of 18.6

Bronze: Brian Matheson, Black Isle (sponsored by AHDB)

62.5% of 17.3

Award winners for the Yen competition 2016 – plot entries

Best plot yield

t/ha

Gold: Jes Hasselbalch with Seges at Hejsager, southern Denmark

13.0

Silver: Peter Karlsen with Seges at Vojens, southern Denmark

12.7

Bronze: Bob Bulmer at Hutchinsons R&D site, Shropshire

12.1

Best % of potential yield – plots

% of t/ha

Gold: Jes Hasselbalch with Seges at Hejsager

61.5% of 21.2

Silver: Bob Bulmer, Hutchinsons with Keith Daly in Essex

61% of 17.9

Bronze: Olav Hoegh with Seges at Holeby, southern Denmark

59% of 20.0