20 March 1998

Most wheat, least investment

continued from page 96

drilled at the more conventional 189-252kg/ha (12-14st), he says.

Reducing rates allowed a £49/ha seed saving and produced a gross margin of about £650/ha (£260/acre) excluding area aid.

Early drilling also advanced harvest to early August, leaving the brothers working virtually behind the combine to prepare a seed-bed for the next crop. That preserves soil moisture and leads to rapid germination and establishment with the crop emerging within seven days of drilling.

To avoid problems with seed availability, the Booths use mainly home-saved seed which is dressed using a gravity separator to ensure a good bold sample.

Riband is their preferred variety because of its high tillering capacity. "Riband best suits this farm. It out-yields all other varieties. New hybrid varieties are coming along but well avoid them until more is known," says Charlie Booth.

As wheat prices continue their downward slide, any cost savings must be welcome. And Charlie and Alaric Booth are convinced that, carefully managed, lower seed rates are a valuable opportunity to maximise profits by cutting cost and increasing yield.

Left to right:Alaric Booth, Philip Marr of Ryehill Farmservices and Charlie Booth, with one of thje Riband wheat plants drilled on Aug 14 at 4st an acre. Inset:Single plant drilled on Aug 14 at 4st an acre.

CEREAL RATE STRATEGY

&#8226 Drill about Aug 14 at 63kg/ha (4st/acre).

&#8226 Aim for plant population of 80-120 plants/sq m.

&#8226 Yield 11.4t/ha (4.6t/acre).

&#8226 Seed costs cut by £49/ha (£20/acre).

&#8226 Gross margin £650/ha (£260/acre) exc area aid.