18 August 1995

Premium &not yield is target

GROWING for a ready market is Joe Wards aim at Greetwell Hall, near Lincoln. Soils on the 546ha (1350-acre) farm include sands, black fen and clays, and cropping plans are adapted to suit.

Hereward is grown as second wheat on lower-yielding soils. At best it produces 7.4t/ha (3t/acre), says Mr Ward. "I dont expect high yields, so I go for premium instead." £20/t is the aim, and some crop is sold forward when premiums reach this level. Riband for export is the main variety and usually produces 8.6t/ha (3.5t/acre).

Growing just 40ha (100 acres) of Hereward allows Mr Ward to combine it in perfect condition. "I can concentrate on it at harvest. If we had more, it could end up on the feed heap in a catchy season."

Protecting Hagberg

Early combining protects Hagberg. Grain is cleaned and stored at 14% maximum moisture content – a continuous flow Alvan Blanch drier can be used if necessary. This and meticulous pre-harvest store cleaning using contractors with power lances means grain can be kept until the following July, without chemical treatment.

Protein content usually exceeds 12%. Mr Ward reckons applying ammonium nitrate up to three weeks later than his neighbours pays. A total of 194kg/ha (155 units/acre) was applied in two splits at the beginning and end of April this year.

Another 43kg/ha (34.5 units/acre) was applied on May 26 to boost protein. "For the past two years its rained on the 27th and washed it in. Results have proved it works."

Intensive soil sampling is used to maintain fertility. Fibrophos (0:18:20) is used as a cheap form of P and K, and muck is "plastered" on to lighter soils to give them some body and increase water holding capacity. Sulphur is routinely applied as a tank-mix with growth regulator.

Milling wheat gives UK growers a guaranteed market which they should try to fill, says Joe Ward.