Farmer Focus: Will ‘green’ wheat out-perform old favourites?

Now that we have used up the last of the long-serving fungicide chlorothalonil, like many farmers my thoughts have turned to “green” wheat varieties.

Is it just me or has KWS got a good seam of breeding stock? Or maybe it’s just really good at marketing? Who knows, but the wheat recommended list is as full as ever of “orange” fare.

Even though 2020 hasn’t been a major septoria year, we all know that the big “S” is the main yield-robber for most years, so just how reliable will the high-7s and even 8s score be over time? We’ve all seen, what looked like unburstable varieties, deflate when nature has had enough!

See also: Why stiff-stemmed and early maturing wheat varieties can pay

Locally Solo has still performed year-in year-out — and for ourselves, Siskin has had three exceptional years. Should we rush to replace an old favourite with promises of gold? All that glitters…

The annual Cereals event has always been a good opportunity to catch up with the breeders and interrogate them on their latest offspring. Sadly, this year wasn’t to be and even though the virtual event happened, you can’t really beat seeing the whites of their eyes.

Jane (She Who Must Be Obeyed) and I have had a really great spring and early summer on our e-bikes – finding bridle paths neither of us knew existed, despite living in Ryedale most of our lives.

The reception we get from other farmers and locals ranges from totally miserable up to joyous enthusiasm for the great outdoors. Now people have got used to living and working at home, we need to give the population reasons to visit the countryside again.

Much of the rural economy depends on visitors’ money, which gives lifeblood to our market towns and villages. As I’ve said before, we need all the friends we can get at the moment, just when new budgets are being drawn up for post-Brexit life.

Let’s welcome visitors with clearly signed and not overgrown rights of way. Most cyclists and walkers I speak to just want to conform, but need clearer guidance.

The positive tourist is the best advert we can’t buy!


Richard Wainwright farms 510ha in Ryedale, on the southern edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. With soil types ranging from heavy clay loam to limestone brash, the family partnership grows winter wheat, winter barley, oilseed rape, spring beans and rotational grass leys. The farm also runs a large beef fattening unit.