West: Disease resistance influences wheat variety choice

Cereal drilling is now well under way in The Southwest, but has really only started in earnest in the last week to ten days, amid concerns of getting crops too proud if drilled earlier, not to mention increased pressure from grassweeds.

The oilseed rape drilling was completed by the second week of September, which is earlier than the last couple of seasons. Without blackgrass to be concerned about the vast majority of rape crops have been treated with a robust pre-emergence herbicide, which will hopefully leave only cereal volunteers and wild oats to deal with as the crop establishes into the autumn. Some rape crops have emerged a little on the patchy side due to continued dry conditions, but thankfully there has been very little or no flea beetle activity and the slugs are not enjoying the dry spell.

Variety choice for winter cereals has been interesting this autumn, with demand being strong for any variety with a strong disease resistance profile. Yield is definitely not the primary driver, which is not entirely unexpected after the high levels of foliar disease experienced during the past season.

Lear winter wheat continues to sell well despite not being a listed variety. This is on the back of a good 7 rating for Septoria tritici and another outstanding set of harvest results for the variety. Also selling well are Relay, JB Diego, Crusoe and Panacea. On the barley front California and Cassia are showing as strong performers ahead of Glacier and Tower, which in places were a little disappointing last season.

The 2-row barley yields this harvest have been very good, along with high specific weights on most varieties. This has made the case for the 6-row hybrids a little more difficult this autumn, as there has not been a clear yield advantage this year other than on poorer sites where the hybrid vigour has been an advantage.

With fine weather persisting most crops are receiving a pre-emergence herbicide, which should help with establishing a good, clean crop and will take the pressure off having to worry about getting into fields to spray after the ground has got wet.

In short, it looks like the 2014/2015 season has got off to a reasonable start.

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