30 June 2000

Keep tillers down if seeking success

CONTROLLING tiller numbers and prolonging the active life of leaves two and three is vital to get the most from cereal crops.

That was a key message at a trials open day staged by distributor UAP in Wilts last week. Concentrate on getting that right and input costs can be cut by as much as £60/ha, while boosting yields by a massive 2t/ha, visitors heard.

Good canopy management is the target, with a final ear number of 400-500/sq m desired.

A helpful cutback on mid-September drilled seed rates to as low as 100 seeds/sq m helps save around £20/ha, compared with the more traditional 250 seeds/sq m.

Trials suggest that if everything is as it should be, growers can shed around 30kg/ha of early-input N for early-sown varieties such as Claire and Consort, saving a further £30 or so on the best ground, claims UAP.

Frugal use of expensive PGRs on less dense, more robust stands then follows. But input timing remains key.

Information

UAPs policy on trials is to make the information freely available, although the firms 150 agronomists and their customers get the first bite.

"Information isnt the key to success. Its being able to interpret it that counts," says Mr Bean.

The aim is not to duplicate NIABs role of ranking varieties under standard conditions, but to test them under extreme and fine-tuned regional circumstances.

Similarly, active ingredients are not sold until they have had three years trialling.