14 November 1997

Triticale fans say goodbye winter barley

FATHER and son partnership Glyn and Richard Pettit from Mains of Tannachy, Portgordon, Banffshire, are big fans of triticale in general and one variety in particular.

Last harvest they had Olympus, Purdy, and Binova in the same field and the yields were 5.50, 5.00, and 6.75t/ha, respectively. Next years 28ha (70-acre) crop, now in the ground, is all Binova.

Such has been the success of the triticale, that its area has been expanded at the expense of winter barley which has been dropped.

The family moved to their farm overlooking the Moray Firth about nine years ago from Suffolk, where Glyn Pettit was a farm manager. The unit was sold and Mr Pettit and his family decided to try farming on their own account.

Richard is in charge of day-to-day running on the 60ha (150-acre) holding. The triticale finds a ready market with Scotlands biggest pig producer, Arthur Simmers, who has units nearby.

"He will buy all the triticale we can produce. It is recognised as a high value feed for pigs. We receive the same market price as feed wheat, which was £80/t this year compared with £105 last season," says Richard.

"Triticale is particularly suited to light land and we are farming on sand. In a dry year we would struggle to produce a spring barley crop. And even in an average year, triticale will outyield winter barley by 1.5t/ha on this farm.

"The agronomy is similar to any cereal, but with the bonus that the crop is completely resistant to fungal diseases. We sow in the first week of October at about 1.7cwt/acre with a base fertiliser of 60 units/acre of potash and 40 of phosphate.

"We apply no nitrogen until the spring, when it gets up to 120 units/ acre. There is no need for fungicides and for weed control we use a mix of Ally (20g/ha) and Oxytril (0.7 litres/ ha). The only other treatments are to counter soil deficiencies – 2.5kg of manganese, 0.5 litres of copper chelate, and 10kg/ha of sulphur.

"Harvest is quite early. This year the crop was cut between Aug 22 and 24. There is no doubt that triticale is an ideal crop for our soil conditions and, having tried other varieties, we find that Binova is out-yielding them by 25% or more and returning an extra gross margin of £100/ha," says Richard. &#42

Triticale enthusiasts Glyn (left) and Richard Pettit are replacing winter barley with the low input crop.

SCOTTISH TRITICALE

&#8226 Light land, disease-free crop.

&#8226 Outperforming winter barley.

&#8226 Strong local feed market.