Better prices sees second wheat sowings on the rise

An expected rise in the UK’s area of second wheats has drawn reminders from specialists on how to get the best from them.


The anticipated revival of sowings in the second crop slot is on the back of firmer grain prices and relatively poor prospects for the alternatives.


“I think there will be a resurgence of interest in second wheats this autumn,” says independent variety consultant Richard Fenwick. “It could be about 10-15%.”


Masstock’s David Neale says the move to second wheats is limited so far, but could increase.


“Disappointing spring break crops and pressure on bean prices could lead to some last-minute decision making.”


Sowings of second and continuous wheats slumped in recent years, notes Monsanto’s David Leaper (see table).


“The big drop in 2005 was prompted by both cereals prices but also changes to CAP.Indications are that second wheat planting will recover this year, maybe not to 2004 levels, but to an intermediate position.”


Sales of take-all seed dressing Latitude (silthiofam), which according to Grainfarmers‘ Tim Hirst is used on about a third of second wheats, support that view.


“Demand is well ahead of last year,” says Mr Leaper.


Allen Scobie of the AICC foresees Scotland’s area of second wheats increasing. But with trials showing that cultural controls like later drilling are more useful for controlling take-all than specific seed treatments, growers should be aware that growing them is a “balancing act”.


“The downside of later sowing is that you run the gauntlet of the weather breaking and no sowing taking place at all. In many cases, on light land, growers are definitely better off growing winter barley.”


Certain varieties, notably Einstein, Gladiator and Glasgow, clearly have a reputation as good second wheat performers. Others also said to do well (probably because of speedier root development, Mr Fenwick believes) include Cordiale, Ambrosia, Istabraq, Xi19 and Solstice.


All agree that Robigus should be shunned as a second wheat.


“One thing is clear,” says Essex-based Peter Taylor, also AICC. “There is little correlation between eyespot rating and performance as a second wheat.”


“I believe all second wheats should be treated with Latitude or Jockey,” says TAG consultant Peter Riley, who says that in East Anglia the earliest drilling date should be 1 October.


“But good quality establishment is very much as important. I believe that seed dressing makes little difference to drilling date.”






































UK WHEAT SOWINGS [‘000HA]
 
2001

2002

2003

2004

2005
Total UK
1,635

1,996

1,837

1,990

1,868
First wheat
985

1,369

1,267

1,467

1,426
Second & cont wheat
650

627

570

523

442
Source:Monsanto