31 August 2001

Winter wheat wins plaudits in south-east

By Andrew Blake

A NEW winter wheat, whose ability to withstand last winters difficult conditions, impressed two south-eastern growers and has largely fulfilled their expectations.

Specialist Essex seed grower David Steele and Martin Lingham, of Kent, had high hopes of Option going into harvest after the potential Group 2 Rialto replacement proved its resilience in adverse conditions earlier in the season.

Now Mr Steele says he is pleased he put nearly one-third of his 97ha (240 acres) of cereals at Dove House Farm, Gallows Green, near Great Dunmow, into the variety for C2 production.

"It was very much an unknown quantity. We were told it was vigorous with a great tillering capacity. But we didnt know how it would rise to the challenge on our far from easy land."

But last week the early October-sown crop, a first wheat, delivered 9.5-10t/ha (3.8-4t/acre). "Considering the year and the diabolical weather the crop had to go through we are happy with it and it thrashed very easily."

Mr Lingham had only enough C1 seed for about 7ha (17 acres) of Option at Paddlesworth Farm, Snodland.

Because of bad weather it was not drilled until late October, a month after Malacca which gave 9.5t/ha (3.8t/acre).

Nevertheless it did well, despite being sown at only 125kg/ha as opposed to the Malaccas 160. Thousand grain weights were very similar, he says.

"I am very surprised at what we have harvested. For a first wheat following oilseed rape 8t/ha is a bit disappointing. But the conditions were far from ideal."

Rain straight after drilling ruled out rolling and slug pellet treatment, he says. &#42