LATE AUTUMN or spring sown wheat can provide a decent return, provided growers pay close attention to variety choice.

That is the message CPB Twyford will deliver to beet growers across the country at a series of meetings to be held at the UK‘s main sugar beet factories this autumn.

“Later drilling is actually increasing over time, therefore it is certainly important to many growers. Currently around 30-35% of all conventional winter wheat is sown after mid October,” said the firm‘s commercial manager Andrew Newby.

So called ‘alternative wheats‘ – namely varieties suited to sowing from mid October to April such as Ashby and Belvoir – offer growers a range of benefits, in addition to a wide sowing window, added commercial agronomist Lee Bennett.

“Growers have time to lift beet fresh, knowing the wheat will still perform and more often than not the varieties are Group 1 and 2 bread making types.”

With a seven month sowing window, alternative wheats also allow greater resource flexibility during busy periods, giving more time for better seedbed preparation, he noted.

He also suggested late drilling could take the pressure off blackgrass programmes and reduce the need for intensive herbicide or fungicide applications.

In response to the possibility that some farmers may decide to leave land as set-aside, Mr Bennett believed that planting wheat was still the answer.

“If you leave land as set-aside after a root crop, in effect you are leaving land bare. Whatever you do, you will therefore need to establish some form of cover – a first wheat will be the best option.”