Second wheats fare well on heavy land

Second wheats on heavy land have performed reasonably well, according to one set of trials results from Masstock’s Throws Farm in Essex.

In the trials, 15 varieties of second wheat averaged 10.59t/ha, without take-all treatment, explained the firm’s trial coordinator, David Newton.

Very low levels of take-all and good summer moisture retention on the clay soil contributed to the good overall performance, although there were marked differences between varieties, he said.

“Without take-all treatment, yields varied from an excellent 11.36t/ha with top performer, Gladiator, to a reasonable but clearly inferior 9.95t/ha with less well-suited second wheat, Robigus.”

Due to the low take-all risk, only a marginal response to the seed treatments Latitude (silthiofam) and Jockey (fluquinconazole + prochloraz) was seen this year, with recommended feed wheats Gladiator and Ambrosia and RL candidates, Battalion and Ochre yielding above 11t/ha, he noted.

“The reasons why some varieties perform better as a second wheat are not always clear – eyespot is one important reason, but it’s not the only one. Until you’ve got experience of how varieties perform on your farm, the best thing to do is look at their performance in second wheat trials.”

Second wheats are a high risk strategy and the decision on whether or not to grow them primarily depends on soil type, added Velcourt’s technical director, Keith Norman. “On lighter land there is a much greater risk of disappointment, so you really need moisture retentive soil.”

He is generally pleased with the performance of first and second wheats this harvest, but highlights the need to maintain a “balanced portfolio” of feed and quality varieties in order to spread the risk of quality, price and weather fluctuations.