Prepare now for record crops for 2014

Crop consultant ADAS is already looking ahead to next season and encouraging arable growers to enter its yield competition for harvest 2014.

Prospective entrants to ADAS’ Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) should be making their plans now, choosing fields, planning sowing regimes and picking varieties to give the biggest yield.

ADAS is looking for radical and risky ideas so it says growers should not be afraid to try something that might seem silly, such as sowing wheat in August.

When choosing varieties for high yield, ADAS says growth is driven by the capture and conversion of light and water into dry matter by photosynthesis so the following points should be considered.

 To capture as much light as possible, varieties need to be early developing, with big canopies and be early flowering. They also need a long grain filling period, be late to maturity and have late senescence. Height may give greater light capture.

  • High-yielding crops need lots of grain sites (sinks) for photosynthesis to fill, and so create more grains per ear.
  • Varieties with low grain protein are associated with high yields and late senescence as nitrogen isn’t taken out of the leaves prematurely to meet grain demand.
  • Triticale and some Danish varieties (Mariboss) seem to exhibit many of these traits.
  • A series of ADAS experiments have shown triticale outyielded current UK wheat varieties in 12 out of 15 experiments.

As well as giving higher yields, DEFRA work has shown that the triticale variety Grenado and Mariboss wheat have lower nitrogen requirements.

They seem to achieve a larger canopy with less nitrogen than other varieties, so need less of the nutrient to create each unit of green area index (GAI) hence reach optimal GAI to intercept all the light at a lower nitrogen rate.

ADAS will be discussing its YEN competition at the Rosemaund open day in Herefordshire on 18 June. Visit www.yen.adas.co.uk

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