Foliar nitrogen applications will be a key input this summer as milling wheat growers look to squeeze every penny of profit they can from their crops.
With many arable growers facing a cash squeeze after the wet autumn, securing a decent premium by applying a protein-boosting spray makes even more sense than usual, says Rob Buck, fertiliser trader at Gleadell Agriculture.
Milling wheat premiums usually require a grain protein content of 13%. At current levels of £25/t and more over feed, growers can expect a fourfold return on their investment if an application secures them the full premium, Mr Buck explains.
He sees little reason for that to change. “Current contracts show traders expect milling wheat premiums to remain healthy, with new-crop Group 1 wheats currently offered at £20-35/t over feed and Group 2s just £5 less,” he adds.
ENhancePro, offered by Gleadell for the first time this season, uses a foliar nitrogenous formula that has been shown to lift grain protein content over several seasons’ use. It offers a safe and effective way to help meet milling specifications, he explains.
The product is formulated from highly bio-available sulphur and stabilised N and includes adhesion compounds that keep the solution in contact with the leaf for longer.
This increases efficiency of absorption, which means the product can be applied at much lower rates than some of the competition, while providing optimum N rates. It also contains buffers to protect against scorching, which can be a problem with foliar urea.
Lincolnshire farmer David Pridgeon is using the product on part of his 150ha of milling wheat this summer. He grows roughly equal quantities of Gallant, Cordiale and red wheat 5603HR at Willows Farm, Hogsthorpe, near Skegness, all contracted through Gleadell.
“We always use foliar N on our heavy silty clays,” he says. “I’d say it’s an essential input – we can get pretty high yields which tends to dilute the protein. You can’t afford for the crop to fail at the last hurdle after all that investment – on average we see a 0.75-1% uplift after treatment.”