27 September 1996

Close finish as Morley wheats hit by drought

DROUGHT has masked any potential new variety winter wheat yield advantages in Morley Research Centre trials for the second year running. With one result still to come, the top 17 varieties are all within 0.3t/ha (0.7t/acre) of one another, the centre reports.

Heading the list, after coming second in 1995, is Chianti with an average treated mean of 8.56t/ha (3.5t/acre). The variety did best on heavier soil, topping the trial as a second wheat and coming third as a first wheat after rape.

Reaper at 8.51t/ha (3.4t/acre) also confirmed its ability to produce high yields in the absence of lodging. On light land, Charger and Beaufort did well.

"In a normal year, we would expect to see the best yields at the heavier soil rate trial site at Otley, Suffolk, rather than at Morley," says cereals specialist, Doug Stevens. "However, this year, the earlier drilled Morley wheats were 1.5t/ha (0.6t/acre) ahead.

"It looks as if the Suffolk wheats suffered from a slightly later drilling into a more cloddy seed-bed, that quickly dried out. As a result, the small feeding roots of the wheats were probably sitting in a dry space and couldnt pick up early nutrients or water."n