1 September 1995

JUST THE JOB AFTER SUGAR BEET

MANAGING 1050ha (2600 acres) for the Neville Estate, south of Lincoln for Aubourn Farming, Philip Ashton sees NVB wheats as ideal after sugar beet.

Alongside 20ha (50 acres) of Cadenza, he has three blocks of Basic and C1 seed Chablis under contract to AF East Midlands.

Up to 1992 the farm grew spring barley after late lifted beet on land given poultry manure before drilling the roots.

Under that regime, it was hard to manage grain nitrogens, which often reached 1.8%. That meant keeping two separate barley heaps in store.

Introducing seed wheats like Cadenza provided a high return alternative. "Two years ago we werent able to drill the Cadenza until mid-March, but still achieved a good yield."

This year Chablis joined Cadenza after beet – both sown in January. "Of the two, Cadenza looks to be more robust, though it was drilled on poorer land. Perhaps it is a variety for more difficult fields, seed-beds and drilling positions," he says.

Low rate fungicides kept both crops clean. The Chablis was treated in early May with Silvacur (tebuconazole + triadimenol) at 0.5litres/ha targeting mildew and Septoria tritici. The same rate of Opus (epoxiconazole) followed at flag leaf to continue the septoria cover.

Another reduced dose – 0.25litres/ha – of Folicur (tebuconazole) was used as a precautionary ear wash after rain in early June. Growth regulators were not required because of dry, cold growing conditions.

"We work to a budget of £220/ha for growing costs." Last year this included 180kg/ha (144 units/acre) of nitrogen as the norm. "This was the budgeted figure for 1995. However, the Chablis looks to have a greater than normal yield potential, so we could justify 190kg/ha."

"While in the past we have drilled Riband after Christmas, varieties like Chablis grown for seed or milling offer an additional premium compared to standard feed wheats.

John Twell, who farms at Risegate near Spalding, drilled three fields of Chablis nearly 10 weeks earlier than Mr Ashton.

In August he was expecting "8.5t/ha plus" from crops after sugar beet or onions. "Ive never seen a variety tiller like it from November sowing," he says.

In a low disease year only two fungicides have been used. Following a comprehensive late tillering cocktail aimed mainly at mildew, low rate Dorin (triadimenol + tridemorph) and Bombardier (chlorothalonil) at flag leaf kept the crop clean.

In Mr Twells view, Chablis provides excellent flexibility. "On our silts we cant get consistent milling quality, so we now look for a seed premium."