8 August 2001
Pick seed with care – agronomists

By Tom Allen-Stevens

Growers are being urged to think carefully about variety choice before drilling early in the last week of August or first week of September.

A large acreage coming out of set aside and already ready to drill is prompting concerns from crop consultants that poor management decisions may be made in haste.

If youre drilling early, your management has to be intellectually spot on, Ian Chalmers, a consultant agronomist in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire told FWi on Wednesday (8 August).

Variety choice is certainly the most important factor to get right, he advises.

His comments coincide with the launch of the new Seed Selector on FWi. Click here for details.

The interactive tool exclusively combines data from the Recommended List with commentary from the Crops variety guides, written by deputy editor Gilly Johnson.

Harvest results from Varplan 2002, funded by the Home Grown Cereals Authority, are also due to go live on the site on Friday (10 August).

Mr Chalmers advises early-drillers to aim for slow-developing varieties, like Claire, Exsept or Genghis.

Look for varieties with good standing power and low disease risk. Eyespot is a massive risk, particularly on high pH, lighter soils.

Farmacy managing director Mike Young echoes this warning, adding that growers should keep an eye on next years market requirements.

“Viewed nationally, the predicted increased wheat acreage is likely to mean an above average total harvest, so choose varieties with the potential for export.

Bread makers are the varieties to go for, according to Banks Cargills Richard Whitlock.

There may be a 7% yield difference between Savannah and Malacca, but you could get a 20% premium.

He warns that the export market is likely to be flush with feed wheat, but Spanish, Italian and Greek millers are looking favourably on specific Group one varieties.

We have to reverse this trend of a reducing percentage of Group one and Group two varieties if we are to market the 2002 crop successfully.

Perfect for this slot would be Option and Xi-19, but seed supplies may already have run dry, he fears.

Malacca is also a good choice, he says. It is the best quality early-sown variety, but is not recommended to be drilled before 10 September.