22 June 2001

Vital to get variety selection correct

AFTER the disruption from the wettest autumn and winter on record wheat growers must re-establish rotations and get back to normal as soon as possible.

That is the advice from Monsantos John Howie who expects this autumns sowings to bounce back from 1.6m ha to over 2m.

"There is likely to be a lot of first wheat this autumn and, weather permitting, much more early drilling than usual. So it is vital to get the variety selection right so performance is not compromised."

"After a dreadful year many rotations have been changed with new crops grown, many drilled late. Often there is more than one crop in a single field." Choice of variety should reflect individual circumstances.

For first wheat after a winter break a slow developer with stiff straw, eight or better on the Recommended List, is essential, says Mr Howie. Options include Riband, Consort and Claire.

For wheat after set-aside a variety able to cope with early drilling is needed. Set-aside harbours volunteer cereals and grasses which carry take-all, so some tolerance to the disease is desirable. Best measure of this is their performance as second wheats, he suggests.

For a first wheat after a spring break most varieties are suitable, he says. But with sowing likely to be after mid-September a fast developer to make up for lost time is useful. High vigour will also help, particularly in rough seed-beds.

For wheat after spring cereals the take-all risk rises so a variety with some tolerance is useful. Early maturity should help avoid a late harvest with further knock-on delays to autumn 2002. &#42