Milling wheat beats all to win top yield award

Norfolk wheat grower Mark Means won the yield competition run by crop consultant ADAS with a breadmaking variety which beat off the challenge of barn-filling feed wheats.

On his fertile soils on the edge of The Wash, Mr Means harvested a crop of Cordiale wheat yielding 13.41t/ha which could well be the highest ever yield of a UK milling wheat.

In a sometimes difficult growing season, he achieved 63% of what ADAS calculated as his potential yield in the group’s Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) competition.

Further north in Lincolnshire, Robert Pask won the highest potential yield award achieving 69% of his top possible harvest, while distributor Hutchinsons picked up the best trial award.

In a competition which attracted over 30 leading British and Irish growers, Mr Means put his success down to his rich silty clay loams and the late loading of nitrogen applications.

He also gained from good sunlight in the summer, while mists from the nearby sea helped his crop in the heatwave during July at his farm at The Laurel, Terrington St Clement, 6 miles west of King’s Lynn.

“It was the sunshine that worked for us and being near the coast the crop was not seriously moisture stressed,” he said.

Meanwhile in Lincolnshire on light limestone brash soils, Mr Pask got closest his potential yield using high seed rates to push his Viscount wheat variety.

“Looking forward, we are looking for a system to aid root development and dip feed nutrients to supply the crop with the nutrition it needs,” he said.

Roger Sylvester-Bradley, ADAS’s principal scientist and coordinator of the YEN, said most soils from the competitors had the potential to yield above that of world record holder Mike Solari who grew a 15.7t/ha wheat crop in New Zealand during 2010.

He said potential wheat yields in Britain and Ireland on medium soil types range from 16t/ha in Norfolk to 24t/ha in the southwestern fringes of Britain and into southeast Ireland.

“The best growing conditions are bright and cool, with cool weather helping to prolong growth,” he said.

Daniel Kindred, crop scientist at ADAS, says YEN crop yields ranged from 8.2t/ha to 13.4t/ha with an average of 11.4t/ha, well above the national wheat average yield of 7.4t/ha this year. Entered crop came from Fife in Scotland to the south coast of England, and from East Anglia to just outside Dublin.

He said after a tough winter and early spring, tiller survival was good helped by bright weather in April and May although crops did come under stress in the summer heatwave.

“Yields were better than expected but could have been even better with a cooler July,” he added.

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