Which wheat for late drill?
PLANT breeders are plugging a plethora of wheat varieties for those with land left to drill. Some say stick with winter types while others argue a switch to springs will pay if there is any delay.
Both arguments have some merit and growers should not read too much into data from just one trial in one year, says NIABs Richard Fenwick.
"At this stage if youve got winter wheat seed on the farm then I would bash on with what youve got. But if you have to go out and buy fresh seed then I wouldnt be buying a winter wheat, because of the risk of not getting it in."
That is echoed by CPB Twyfords John Blackman. "Spring varieties perform well from November sowing onwards. The key point is if you cant sow winter varieties then their performance tails off rapidly."
Some will say their winter wheat sown January/February last year did well, but a spring wheat would probably have yielded more from the same seed-bed, he adds. "You would certainly notice how much later the winter wheat would be to harvest – two weeks at least."
Group 2 springs Chablis or Ashby are fine from late October, but growers should not go with Group 1 Samoa before the end of November, he says.
Nickersons Frank Curtis concurs with Mr Blackman that spring varieties will perform on a par in November and give growers more flexibility if drilling is delayed.
However, for those not aiming for bread milling markets he suggests true winter Group 3 variety Deben, which has topped both the main NIAB/HGCA and ARC variety trials and NIABs three-site late drilling trials.
"I would go for Deben rather than Claire at this stage. By nature seed-beds are less favourable from November onwards and Deben has produced excellent results in such conditions." Lodging is less of an issue with later sowings, he adds.
Advanta advocates its Recommended List contender and potential miller Xi19 for later sowings, citing drilling date work by NIAB at Cambridge last year (see table). Drawing on the same data Monsanto is promoting Option, highlighting its flexibility and robustness.
"Along with most of the other varieties included in the trial, the optimum sowing date for Option was late September," says seeds trials co-ordinator David Leaper.
"However, the variety emphasised its particular adaptability by maintaining its performance over the main winter sowing period better than any other." As a group 2 variety full specification milling samples are making £12/t over feed at present, he adds. *
• Finish what youve got first.
• Springs safer if dont get on.
• Quality can compensate for date.
• Option, Xi19 or Deben best winters?
Claire Csort Mcca Snah Chger Option* Xi19
Oct 15 11.6 12.1 11.4 12.2 – 12.0 13.4
Mid-Dec 9.7 9.5 9.7 9.0 9.3 10.3 10.4
Basic trial funded by Procam, breeders commissioned specific variety inclusions. Work conducted by NIAB at Cambridge on med-heavy soil.
*Figures provided by PBIC, 250 seeds/sq m. Other results provided by Advanta, mean of 100, 250 and 400 seeds/sq m.