Unique season leaves its mark on crop results
By Charles Abel
THIS years farmers weekly/ Agricultural Supply Industry survey of farmer results shows the impact of a unique growing season on the main combineable crops.
Over 180 farmers participated, submitting 1415 individual crop reports, with a good distribution across the UK.
After a warm autumn followed by exceptionally lush growth coming out of the winter, late spring frosts and then a searing drought, crop responses were eagerly awaited. Most barleys benefited – coming off before the drought. For wheats the picture is less clear, some southern crops suffering and torrential rain afflicting those north of the border.
Average yield reflects the summer drought, this years 8.17t/ha, slightly down on last years 8.29t/ha.
Among the popular wheats Beaufort did best, with 9.74t/ha from six growers. One Lincs farmer tagged it "outstanding" when drilled late after sugar beet, while another considered it "the best new wheat". But an Essex grower thought it "wasnt a patch on Brigadier for yield".
Brigadier and Riband tied as the most popular varieties, with 120 reports each.
Among the less widely grown varieties, one Yorks seed producer managed 12.2t/ha from Reaper. Meanwhile a Cambs grower did 10.3t/ha with Consort where a comprehensive spray programme was used. Dynamo did well with two growers averaging 9.67t/ha.
Cadenza suffered mixed fortunes, returning one of the widest yield ranges (4.14-9.24t/ha) and attracting comments from "exceptional quality" to "disappointing yield". Several growers noted the variety suffered in the drought, but pulled through on quality.
Haven pleased many as a second wheat, one Lincs farmer saying it "put the need for break crops in doubt".
Fine growing conditions saw average yield rise by a fifth, from 5.77t/ha last year to 6.91t/ha. Highest yielding popular variety was Gaelic, with 24 growers averaging 7.66t/ha. But some dipped as low as 5.5t/ha, saying the crop looked "bad", "awful" and "dreadful" during the spring.
Next closest was Pastoral, 32 growers turning in an average of 7.31t/ha. Top yielder was tied by Linnet and Princess, with a huge 9.3t/ha, outstripping six-row feeder Manitous 9.14t/ha.
Drought dropped the average yield from 5.57t/ha last year to 5.55t/ha this time. Reports were also less numerous, the most popular variety being Alexis, which averaged 5.09t/ha with 48 growers.
Cooper was higher yielding, with 13 growers averaging 5.97t/ ha, to outrun other common names. But it was not represented in Scotland. Chariots 39 growers from all over the UK averaged 5.89t/ha, a whisker behind Derk-ados eight, who managed 5.9t/ha.
Among the newer varieties, a Northern Ireland grower managed 7.1t/ha with Felicie.
Yield averaged 3.46t/ha, a fifth higher than last years 2.9t/ha. Top of the popular varieties was Inca, with 4.18t/ha. But over half the rape respondents grew Apex, marking it the dominant line. It averaged 3.36t/ha. *
Winter oilseed rape