MILLING WHEAT growers have been told they can achieve the right spec on all their quality varieties, provided they manage them correctly.

Applying a few basic rules and tailoring management to the variety will mean that growers will not be such hostages to fortune or the weather, said Mike Jeffes, technical development manager at Masstock Dalgety.

“Varieties are like people – they need to be treated as individuals and managed in different ways,” he told growers at the HGCA Milling Wheat conference near Cambridge.

As a “rule of thumb”, milling varieties need an extra 25kgN/ha per tonne of expected yield to get the 13% protein, according to trials at Dalgety‘s Throws Farm.

“Use liquid urea during grainfill, and up spend on T3 sprays on some varieties, particularly Malacca and Xi19, to make sure of specific weight,” advised Mr Jeffes.

Reaching milling wheat spec was not a problem in 2003, he said, but this was an “exceptional year”.

“If the 2004 harvest is like 2002, and only 30% of milling varieties make the grade, the market could be short and there could be a healthy premium to chase.”

The quality wheat trials have run for four years, and shown that nitrogen offtake differs between years and between varieties, said Mr Jeffes.

“If all varieties worked in the same way, there should be a similar pattern of nitrogen offtake, but Xi19 really struggled in 2002, for example.”

Management tips for milling success:
• Malacca : Protein content and specific weight may need attention. Use more N, include foliar urea and use a good T3 fungicide.
• Xi19 : Same as Malacca, plus standing ability could be an issue, so use a late growth regulator.
• Hereward : Protein is generally OK, but Hagberg is an issue. Give this variety priority at harvest.
• Solstice : Disease is its weakness. Watch out for eyespot and brown rust.
• Einstein, Cordiale: Need extra N, but the premium for these group twos may not warrant the investment.