North-South divide defines early wheat yields and quality

In the South much of the wheat land has been harvested while further north growers, have found themselves behind, waiting for crops to ripen.

Results from six of the 21 HGCA Recommended List trial sites have shown some positive early results, with above average yields.

Technical manager at the HGCA Bill Handley says the mean yield is 0.25t/ha above the five-year mean, in line with what has been seen in other crops.

“Some of the Group 4 feed varieties have done well, with Dickens and KWS Kielder standing out.”

Along with Kielder and Dickens, Conqueror and Santiago have performed well and are the top-yielding ones so far.

“The control mean is 10.25t/ha which is very respectable. Dickens is at 108%, Conqueror and Kielder 107% and Santiago 106%.

“We have one trial in Cheshire that had a mean control yield getting on for 12t/ha, which is quite remarkable,” he explains.

Two varieties that drew a lot of interest last summer were Leeds and Myriad, however, so far they’ve been a bit disappointing, according to Mr Handley.

Highs and lows


  • RL yields above five-year mean

  • Specific weight much better than last season

  • Protein, hagbergs and screenings also looking good so far


  • Second wheats and crops on thinner, lighter soils fared less well

  • Hot spell dented yield, particularly in the East

  • The delayed harvest meant that only 40% of the UK wheat area was cut by the start of September, however, early figures show promising yields and quality.

    • “It is still early days though and may improve as the other results come in.

      “What we have seen from the early results are good specific weights, good protein levels and Hagberg.”

      Yield estimates from the latest ADAS report are at 7.6-7.7t/ha with a specific weight average of 76kg/hl – much higher than last year’s 70.7kg/hl. Proteins have been reasonable at 12.8% with quality faring much better than last year.

      Openfield arable technical manager David Leaper says it has been a mixed bag across the country although the expectations will have been lowered.

      “I think on good wheat land, we are seeing some good wheat yields. However, on the thinner, lighter soils and particularly in the second wheats, yields have been down.

      “The heatwave brought forward a lot, and it never quite recovered.”

      Mr Leaper highlights that many growers were forced to put in much of their wheat in poor conditions and they struggled to develop a good rooting system.

      “It’s all about rooting so as soon as they went in the ground it is questionable how they were going to perform.”

      Varieties have performed as expected, according to Mr Leaper, who says unlike last year there has been no one single variety that has performed above the rest.

      “I think last year, certain varieties stood out in terms of bushel weight, but this year most are coming in with good quality,” he says.

      At Camgrain, managing director Phillip Darke says most growers are fairly happy with what they have got following such a dire season.

      “The hot weather did affect yields in the East though. I would say we are probably 1t/ha down from where it could have been simply because we had those three weeks of hot weather.”

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