Farmer Focus: The wheats are on the turn

The recent rains have been welcomed by our spring crops, which are now midway through grain fill in the spring barley and flowering in the linseed.

Both crops have thickened in recent weeks with yield potential following suit.

Looking at the different varieties of spring barley, I’m pleased we changed from Planet to Laureate.

Net blotch pressure seems to be getting worse in Planet as the seasons go by, with the fungicides struggling to hold the disease back.

About the author

Richard Harris
Richard Harris manages his family farm in partnership with his father in south Devon. Growing wheat, barley, linseed, grass and cover crops, with a small pick-your-own pumpkin patch.
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See also: Analysis: Which wheat varieties to consider for harvest 2023

This highlighted to us that varietal resistance is the foundation to combatting disease, and is certainly worth paying for.

Linseed seems to be performing like oilseed rape, where thinner crops look to be branching out to fill the gaps well and, much like rapeseed, yield is totally unknown until the combine goes through.

The wheats are on the turn and don’t look as if they will hold on for the extra week I was hoping for. We’ll be heading for an earlier harvest, but the crop looks plenty full enough.

After attending a few opens days, there seems to be a couple of new wheat varieties we will add to the blend. Dawsum and Champion will hopefully bring an uplift in yield, bushel weight and septoria resistance.

In theory, this would make the blend a seven-way mix from its original three-way design.

This wasn’t the initial idea, but my recent thought is to let the varieties decide among themselves through yield contribution which will dominate the blend.

Without on-farm variety trials, I’m only guessing which varieties perform better in our system, so taking the decision out of my hands and letting nature decide could be as good as any.

Some other new varieties to the winter barley market have our attention, mainly due to their barley yellow dwarf virus tolerance traits, which is very important to us in our no-insecticide system.

We will be comparing Sensation and Feeris next season, and we’ll find out if their paper credentials match their on-farm performance.

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