11 August 2000
HGCA winter wheat advice criticised
By FWi staff
NEW advice from the HGCA which implies winter wheat seed rates are often too high, has come under fire from the industry.
Critics say Topic Sheet No 36 from the body which aims to improve UK cereals production and marketing is too site specific to be relayed nationally.
John Howie of Cambridge-based crop breeding business PBIC said: My concern is that the results are from only one site, in Hereford, where soils are kind.
I am also worried that there isnt sufficient warning about the risks of using too low a seed rate.
Arable Research Centres (ARC) has had numerous calls since sheet 36 was mailed and is also concerned.
Growers want to know what seed rates they should be using, stresses ARC research co-ordinator Nick Poole.
But they cannot predict establishment losses, so this research is causing confusion.
HGCA spokesman Clive Edwards stands by the decision to issue the sheet, saying it is intended to stimulate thinking about optimum plant populations.
Seed rate is something you adjust for yourself taking all the various risk factors into account, he said.
Most people tend to be reasonably conservative.
The research is already being extended to other areas including Scotland, added Mr Edwards.
- Wheat study aims to cut seed rate, but not yields, FWi, 18 July 1997
- Seed rates offer scope for savings, FWi, 26 January 1996