Bumper milling wheat yield could be highest ever

Norfolk wheat grower Mark Means harvested a mega breadmaking crop yielding 13.39t/ha this summer and he is trying to establish if this could be a record.

In a season when the overall British wheat yield was broken, his crop could set a new standard for milling wheats and we would like to hear of any grower with a higher yield.

Mr Means only grew the variety Cordiale on his fertile silty clay loams and the high-quality sample was snapped up by the millers at a healthy premium.

He puts his success down to a creating a good soil structure, plenty of sunshine in June and July and a good team on his farm close to the edge of The Wash in north-west Norfolk.

“We got the soil structure right. The soil is our best asset, and if looked after it will repay us if the weather is favourable,” he says.

Lincolnshire Wolds grower Tim Lamyman narrowly broke the British wheat record with a 14.31t/ha crop of the feed variety Kielder this summer, topping David Hoyles’ 14.3t/ha achieved on his farm in 2011 only 10 miles west of Mr Means. But there is no official record for breadmaking wheat.

Mr Means cut about 120ha of Cordiale wheat with an average yield of 11.84t/ha, while his chosen block came in with a specific weight of 82.9kg/hl, protein of 13.13% and Hagberg of 341.

If you have a milling wheat crop that beats this yield please let us know by emailing farmer.weekly@rbi.co.uk or write to us at Farmers Weekly, Quadrant House, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5AS.

He chose the KWS variety as it performed the best in the difficult harvest of 2012 and although it is only a Group 2 milling wheat, it gave a good breadmaking sample.

Mr Means drilled his crop in late September following vining peas, with the soil in a good condition after he used a seven-furrow plough with seven subsoiler legs attached in the autumn of 2011.

The crop received a five-way split of nitrogen totalling 280kg/ha and a five-spray fungicide programme on his 200ha farm at The Laurel, Terrington St Clement, six miles west of King’s Lynn.

He farms only about one mile from the sea, so was fortunate to get a cool sea breeze during the summer heat wave to minimise stress on the growing crop.

“There was enough moisture in the soil and the sea breezes also helped,” he adds.

Mr Means measured out a 8.59ha block from a 33ha field which he was monitoring as part of the Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) competition run by crop consultant ADAS.

The yield is one of the highest in the YEN. It earned a £15-18/t premium over feed wheat and was sold through grain co-operative Fengrain.

“This was a good crop and of good quality, and I would struggle to find any grower that has done better,” says Rob Munro, managing director of Fengrain.

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