World wheat growers face challenging future

UK wheat growers are not alone, with farmers across the world grappling with many challenges, including resistant weeds and drought.

United States

Key challenges (vary from one growing region to another):

  • Drought and low yields are common in the Central Plains
  • In the Northern Plains, shift to soya bean and maize at expense of wheat, as now more adapted to local conditions
  • Fusarium head blight control becomes essential where maize is part of the crop rotation
  • Weed resistance is spreading: grassweed resistance to ACCase and ALS herbicides and kochia resistance to ALS and glyphosate

Cereals in numbers (estimate for 2014-15 season)

Wheat area 2014 (planted)

23m hectares

Average wheat yield 2014 

About 3t/ha

Wheat production 2014      

55m tonnes

Wheat exports 2013-14      

32m tonnes


Australia

Key challenges:

  • Climate variability (such as reliability of rainfall during growing season)
  • Soil types are generally low in fertility and fragile in nature
  • Herbicide resistance (weed species becoming resistant to multiple herbicide mode of action groups)
  • Farm debt levels and access to finance continuing to squeeze input spend
  • Increasing labour scarcity
  • Investment in infrastructure and technology
  • Growing competition in key export markets

Cereals in numbers (estimate for 2014-15 season)

 

Wheat

Barley

Planted area (m hectares)

13.84

3.80

Yield (t/ha)

1.65

1.97

Production (m tonnes)

22.86

7.47


Argentina

Key challenges

  • Government interventions: export taxes (23% for wheat and 20% for barley) and quotas for exports affect local prices and profitability
  • Lack of predictability leads to more defensive planning
  • Resistant weeds to the main modes of action used (glyphosate, ACCase, ALS). New species are being seen and the affected area is increasing

 Cereals in numbers (2014-15 season)

 

Wheat

Barley

Area (m hectares)

4.2

0.92

Advance (%)

95.9%

100.0%

Yield (t/ha)

2.82

3.61

Estimated production

(m tonnes)

11.2

2.8


Canada

Key challenges:

  • Environmental conditions: Reliance on timely moisture and optimum heat units during 120-day growing season
  • Weed resistance issues: ACCase- and ALS-resistant grassweeds; ALS- and EPSPS-resistant broad-leaved weeds
  • Yield stability: Achieving stability under a wide variety of agriclimatic conditions
  • Disease: Growers targeting both leaf and ear disease with more intense fungicide applications
  • Significant increase in fusarium incidence in past five years

Cereals in numbers (estimate for 2014-15 season)

Area (m ha)

% by class

Total wheat

Canadian Western Red Spring

Canadian Prairie Spring

Durum

Winter

Other

9.79

62%

5%

15%

5%

13%

2014 seeded area 2012–2014 average grain yields (t/ha)

Total wheat

Canadian Western Red Spring

Canadian Prairie Spring

Durum

Winter

Other

3.2

3.0

3.9

2.8

4.2

3.7

 


Ukraine

Key challenges:

  • Climate is becoming more continental, challenging wheat drought resistance and winter hardiness
  • Soils are generally rich in fertility, but 57.5% of soils are subject to erosion
  • Farming techniques lack sustainability
  • Limited knowledge of agribusiness management
  • Limited access to markets (unfair farmgate price)
  • Farm debt levels and access to finance lead to
    low-input model
  • Farm land trade is under moratorium

Cereals in numbers (estimate for 2014-15 season)

  • Maize and soya bean are the main crops competing with wheat
  • Wheat area 2014 – 5.1m hectares (industrial sector)
  • Most common crop rotation cycle: barley, winter oilseed rape, maize

Ukraine-graph


UK

Key challenges:

  • Maritime climate is extremely well suited to growing cereals. While not generally limited in terms of rainfall, sunlight or temperature, there is a growing tendency towards extreme weather patterns
  • Grassweed resistance to ALS herbicides is the biggest threat and there are growing concerns over potential decreases in sensitivity of cereal diseases to modern fungicides
  • Tightening regulations for pesticides affecting future advances in cereal production

Cereals in numbers harvest 2014

UK cereal area

3.14m hectares with 1.85m hectares of wheat and 1.15m hectares of barley

UK average yield

Wheat averaged 8.4t/ha (range 5–12t/ha)

Production

16.6m tonnes of wheat and 7m tonnes of barley


Poland

Key challenges:

  • Average: rainfall 625mm, temperature 8C
  • Growing problem with silky-bent grass resistant to ALS products
  • Slow development of resistant septoria in the western part of Poland
  • Wheat production with 65% monoculture
  • Soils in Poland are generally poor, which is why only 2.5m hectares of wheat is cultivated
  • In recent years no problems with access to capital or technologies on large farms

Cereals in numbers

  • 1.5m farms of which 800,000 less than 5ha
  • Total cereals area 7.2m hectares (but only 2.5m hectares of wheat)
  • Total wheat production 11.5m tonnes
  • Average yield 4.6 t/ha

Germany

Key challenges:

  • Resistance issues
  • Grassweeds such as blackgrass and silky-bent grass
  • Fungal diseases such as microdochium, powdery mildew and Septoria tritici
  • Competition in rotation: Wheat is largest crop in Germany. Most competitive crops are maize and oilseed rape

Cereals in numbers

 

Acreage

(000ha)

Yield (t/ha)

Production (m tonnes)

Winter wheat

3,173

8.7

27.5

Winter barley

1,235

7.8

9.6

Winter rye

636

6.1

3.9

Triticale

425

7.1

3.0

Spring barley

349

6.0

2.1

Spring wheat

61

6.1

0.4

Oats

125

5.1

0.6

Total

6,004

7.9

47.1


France

Key challenges:

  • Increase the production level in terms of unit labour input and per unit of area
  • Increase wheat protein content
  • Maintain good weed control in the rotation

Cereals in numbers

  • Cereals area 2013: 7.5m hectares comprising 5.5m hectares of wheat and 1.5m hectares of barley
  • 270,000 farms grow cereals which is 53% of total number of French farms

France-graph


CropScience Cereal Future Forum

About 230 experts, farmer breeders and other representatives recently attended the Bayer CropScience Cereal Future Forum in Brussels. The aim was to discuss the challenges and new approaches to enhance wheat yield and quality.