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12 July 2002




In our fourth and final article providing pointers towards more profitable wheat production, Rob Ding, an independent agronomist for farm management consultant Aubourn, considers harvest.

&#8226 Make a final in-crop assessment of the successes/failures with crop inputs/management. Produce weed maps as needed.

&#8226 Where in-crop OSR establishment is to be used, plan system of applying OSR seed and immediate post-harvest management.

&#8226 If aiming for direct drill/in-crop establishment, plan for minimum soil damage. Consider low ground pressure tyres, optimise tyre pressures, keep traffic to tramlines.

&#8226 Review straw management to ensure chop and spread is good and even where needed.

&#8226 Combine quality wheats first – use glyphosate if Hagberg can be a problem.

&#8226 Consider using glyphosate to provide an early bite on a third of total crop area, where in-crop/Autocast OSR establishment is planned, to protect quality on group 1 and 2 wheats, and on any sprouting-prone varieties.

&#8226 Ensure early maturing varieties are closely monitored. Dessicant timing can often be too late to help. Aim for 30% moisture or when grain will hold thumb nail impression. Remember not to dessicate seed crops.

&#8226 Take advantage of any early markets direct off combine where quality premiums available.

&#8226 Ensure in-store management of premium wheats is good, keep separate, monitor moisture, temperature and pest control.

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28 June 2002




In the third article in this four-part series looking at wheat production benchmarks, Norfolk-based Nick Bleach of farm management company Aubourn provides some crop management pointers:

&#8226 Lodging control Choosing the appropriate seed rate is the key to good lodging control, supported by varietal standing power, nutrient status/nitrogen timing and rate, drilling date and crop condition.

&#8226 Fungicide programmes Adjust according to farm logistics and long-term management plans. Using basis of PGR control programme utilise fungicides to best effect at lowest rates for optimal control. Protect ear on quality wheats and possibly all wheats. Target fungicide spend of around £30/ha.

&#8226 Nitrogen Look for cost savings using urea/compounds with sulphur if needed. Use nitrogen on second wheats in autumn and in early spring and on all wheats on light soils in autmn. Do not reduce N at expense of yield. Increase N for protein.

&#8226 Weed control Use the rotation as the first line of defence where blackgrass is out of control. Where reasonable control can be expected use terbutryne/ trifluralin plus glyphosate followed by very early low cost post-em.

&#8226 Cost control Key driver for profitablity assuming yields have been maximised. Target overall input costs at £175/ha.

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14 June 2002




In the second of this four-part series looking at wheat production benchmarks, Roger Davis of farm management company Aubourn provide some establishment pointers:

lSeize stale seed-bed opportunities.

lEvaluate home-saved seed advantages – at low sowing rates for early drilling, purchased seed may be a logistical benefit. Cost differences may not be as clear-cut in favour of home-saving considering the extra management time.

lOptimise drilling dates for maximum yield.

lEnsure accurate seed rate setting. Raise it quickly after 2nd week in September and be responsive to in-field conditions to maximise yield/standing power.

lAssess need for seed dressings. Are they really needed on first wheats? Latitude essential on second and very early drilled first wheats. Use Evict on late drillings after roots where wheat bulb fly a problem. Consider Baytan for reducing gout fly risk by delaying germination.

lIdentify min-till and/or direct drilling opportunities with crop residues in mind.

lFertilise for the crop, not the soil. Investigate optimal use of P & K.

lUse pre-em herbicides for tough grassweed control and post-ems at one-leaf stage of the crop.

lSpray promptly for BYDV, consider Secur dressings for ease of management, and apply repeat low doses of metaldehyde for slugs.

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31 May 2002




IN THE first of a four-part series looking at wheat production benchmarks, we ask Bridget Carroll of farm management company Aubourn to provide some planning pointers:

&#8226 Appraise the wheat enterprise carefully, at current crop prices.

&#8226 Plan 2002 sowings for total output value not just yield or agronomics. But be absolutely sure premium is achievable.

&#8226 Limit experimentation with new varieties.

&#8226 Do not compromise early drilling plans to maximise overall yield averages.

&#8226 Block crop if at all possible to ease workloads.

&#8226 Dig holes to aid decisions on costly sub-structure repairs.

&#8226 Maximise marketing flexibility with balance of wheat types according to local market demands.

&#8226 Only grow Group 1 wheats where specifications can be achieved reliably.

&#8226 Look to Group 2 wheats for feed wheat yields with premium possibilities.

&#8226 Push yields hard at lowest input costs with Group 3 and 4 wheats.

&#8226 Concentrate on improving second wheat performance.

&#8226 Plan variety mix balancing sowing and harvesting workloads.

&#8226 Review long term logistics and personnel management.

&#8226 Identify all areas for cost cutting.

Benchmarks (target GM £/ha)

First Second

wheat wheat

Group 1 615 546

Group 2 613 542

Group 3 569 485

Group 4 568 499

Assumes: Wheat £60/t, milling premium £10/t, group 2 premium £6/t.

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11 February 2000

Another option for group 2


HOPES are high that Monsanto/PBICs new winter wheat Option will help reverse last autumns sharp decline in group two sowings.

The variety, bred from a sister line of Rialto, has performed well in trials and will be considered for a place on the UK Recommended List this autumn.

After three years of growth group two varieties took a sharp downward turn last autumn, dropping from over 17% of the market in 1998 to the 11% of three years ago, wheat manager John Howie explained at the companys launch last week.

Branded as the dawn of a new generation of class two wheats Option outyields Rialto, gives more consistent Hagbergs and resists ergot.

In 4 years of NIAB trials Option outyielded Rialto by 3% and Consort by 1%, making it the top yielding group two or three added value wheat. Hagberg has proved higher and more stable than Rialto, particularly last year.

A closed flowering habit, derived from Vivant parentage, seems to have solved Rialtos growing ergot problem. Protein content dipped below milling standard last year, but that is thought to stem from yield dilution. Loaf type is comparable with Rialto.

C1 seed will be available this autumn ahead of a C2 launch for 2001. "We expect Option to relaunch group 2 wheats," said Mr Howie.

&#8226 Mark Hughes, wheat director for miller Allied expressed concern at the lack of group two varieties coming through the system. "They have served a useful purpose, so a newcomer would be welcomed." Group two varieties also boost export prospects, being well suited to overseas breadmaking grists, added Rachel Walker, director of British Cereal Exports.

Consistent yield marks Napier apart

DATA from NIAB trials show Napier is not only the top yielding variety across a range of site fertility, but it is also the most consistent. "From sites with a yield potential of 6t/ha to 12t/ha Napier was top yielder and Savannah number two," said Mr Howie. It also showed less variation than any current wheat variety, ahead of Buster and Buchan. Savannah and Equinox were amongst the most variable of current varieties, Mr Howie explained. Recommended C2 retail price for autumn 2000 is £275/t treated and delivered, with a 7% market share expected.

Options covered…new wheat varieties from PBIC/Monsanto offer group two bread-making quality and top feed yield, says product manager John Howie.

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2 January 1998


OF the six wheats on the Recommended List half are fully recommended.

Chablis remains top yielder whether sown in the conventional spring slot or much earlier. But whereas in 1996 Chablis accounted for half the certified seed area, last harvest its share slipped to 39%.

In 1996 Axona had a 13% share of the certified seed area. But it accounts for nearly a quarter of the area for sowing this spring. "It is hard to know why this has happened, especially as its breadmaking quality has come down a point," says NIABs Richard Fenwick. "But it is still a NABIM Group 1 variety whereas Chablis is Group 2."

Shiraz makes up the fully recommended trio. Slightly more susceptible to mildew, it is the only soft endosperm type on the list and is always grown on contract, he says.

Provisionally recommended Imps share of the seed area has doubled to 15% since 1996. "It is a good promising variety with better quality than Chablis." Its main weakness, compared with the others, is against brown rust. Baldus and Avans, both prone to Septoria tritici, are becoming outclassed.

Yield ratings of

recommened wheats

Fully recommended

105 Chablis

100 Shiraz

92 Axona

Provisionally recommended

103 Imp

Becoming outclassed

100 Baldus

95 Avans

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3 January 1997


SPRING wheat growers have nearly twice as many fully recommended varieties to pick from this year as last.

In reality overall choice remains much the same apart from the addition of Imp, which commands nearly 7% of the seed area in its first listed year.

With millers bemoaning the shortage of winter bread-making wheats in the ground, spring varieties with their inherently good quality should find a ready market this season, says Mr Fenwick.

Breeders have done much to boost spring wheat yields recently, he adds. "In some ways the bread-making quality has declined a bit – Chablis, for example, rates only 6 – but that should not stop people from growing them. If you can grow them they should have a good market."

There is a choice of five fully recommended varieties and one each in the provisional and outclassed categories, all bar one hard milling.

Chablis, with over half the seed area (the highest share of any spring crop) will dominate, he predicts. "At 109 its yield is outstanding."

Shiraz (101) is slightly weaker against mildew and Septoria tritici and unusual in being a soft endosperm type. "Being soft limits its market to specialist use, so it should always be grown on contract," advises Mr Fenwick.

Baldus (102) has struggled to attract farmers, he says, matching neither Chablis for yield or Axona for quality. "It seems to fall between the two stools."

Avans (96) is top listed for protein but has the lowest Hagberg rating and has a slight question mark over its brown rust resistance.

Axona (94), which has been on the list since 1985, is somewhat surpassed for yield but remains a good bread-maker, says Mr Fenwick. "However, some millers have been a bit disappointed with it in the past few years."

There should be plenty of seed for newcomer Imp (106), second only to Chablis for yield. But it, too, is quite susceptible to brown rust and, like most spring wheats, to Septoria tritici.

Promessa, with the lowest listed protein content, is becoming outclassed despite its 104 yield rating and good brown rust resistance.

continued overleaf

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