2 June 1995

WHY SOWING DATE IS SO CRUCIAL

UNTIL dwarf varieties come on stream, sowing date will be crucial to manipulate plant development, warns Mr Milford. Sow too early and the plant produces too much growth, and can lodge; sow too late, and it produces too little, so cutting yield.

The aim is to produce at least 25 leaves for 3t/ha; nearer to 35 for optimum yields, he explains. The onset of flowering stops leaf production. But this only happens once the plant is fully vernalised. If this takes too long, too many leaves will be produced, and vice-versa.

"But we can model this very accurately. By using historical weather data we can predict the best sowing date for any UK site," says Mr Milford.