• BETTER understanding of varietal development could help growers target flowering date for wheats to maximise yield according to where they are in the country, said ADAS principal research scientist John Spink.
"Grain filling in wheat lasts about 700 day degrees. The earlier the flowering, the longer the likely time that will take, hence the longer the grain-fill period and the higher the yield," he explained. However, drilling too early with a variety that develops too fast can expose crops to frost risk, he warned.
• LOOK carefully at your own land before following cultivation trends, advised Mr Bide, referring to the trend to large-scale minimal tillage establishment. "Its very easy to be drawn into fashion. But at the end of the day you have to ask yourself what is best for your own soils. There are so many soils out there that wont tolerate min-till. We mustnt forget the plough."
• TILLERING may occur later in the north, but varieties seem to produce a similar number of tillers regardless of latitude.
That is the initial indication of an ongoing HGCA wheat study, suggesting that the trend for lower seed rates could be pushed further north.
"Lower ear numbers is what is expected when the seed rate is reduced, but we have not seen that based on this one years evidence," said ADASs John Spink.
• MODERN plant breeding could halve the costs of disease protection, according to Neil Paveley of ADAS.
Untreated yields have barely changed in the past 15 years, as breeders have concentrated on yield and quality.
However, new techniques, such as marker assisted breeding, could allow all the plant self-defence mechanisms – disease escape, resistance and tolerance – to be combined.
"If we could stack them all together we could see a cost reduction of 50%," says Dr Paveley. *