High ratings stand lodging test
STANDING power ratings remain the best guide to lodging risks in winter wheats, according to Richard Fenwick, head of cereals trials at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany.
After some very early drilling, an exceptionally mild autumn and lush spring growth, the prospects for more flat crops than usual this harvest are strong.
Much depends on the weather from now on and the extent of timely growth regulator use, says Mr Fenwick. But whatever happens, growers who chose varieties with the highest ratings are likely to come off best.
That may seem obvious. But for those who believe really bad seasons tend to swamp any differences, NIAB figures reinforce the value of a high rating (see table).
Breeders appear to be doing a good job in helping to keep wheats upright. The 16 recommended varieties for 1994 had an average standing power of 6.7 on the 1-9 scale. The 20 on the 1995 list have a mean rating of 7. Unlike the diseases picture, where some ratings are as low as 3, no variety merits less than 6 for its standing power.
There was little lodging in 1994, but laid fields were a serious problem in 1992. NIAB trials show that although the amount of lodging varies from season to season, the relative differences between varieties stay much the same.
So the ratings, based on observations throughout the country over the past five years, are still the most reliable pointer to what combines will have face come harvest, Mr Fenwick suggests. *
Winter wheat lodging in contrasting years
Hussar 6 4612
Closer attention to NIAB ratings can help dispel laid crop nightmares.