Hybrid wheats now set to deliver on promises
By Charles Abel
HYBRID wheats offer growers several possible benefits, with new lines showing well in trials staged by a leading distribution company.
The key benefits on offer include:
• designer wheats that allow growers to supply lucrative non-food niche markets;
• varieties that have been specially bred to follow late harvested root crops;
• lines that can scavenge nutrients and moisture to bring better yield potential from poorer fields.
Those are three good reasons for hybrid success, before including the mainstream food and feed markets, says Craig Chisholm, regional agronomist with DuPont, talking about the new varieties from DuPont Hybrinova.
In France hybrids took a 5% share of seed sales this season. Some grain is now finding its way into export markets for use in both feed and bread-making. Consistently high quality standards are a strong selling point.
But hybrids have the potential to achieve much more for UK growers, says Mr Chisholm. "Because we can more easily breed specific characteristics in to these wheats, we anticipate that there will be a developing range of non-food markets for them. That should mean profit opportunities for those growers who understand their agronomy."
Hybrids also offer a more stable yield than standard varieties across a wide range of soil types, suiting them to poorer fields, he says. That derives from their greater ability to scavenge for nutrients and moisture.
"We may not be seeing the huge yield increases that have come about with hybrid maize. But there are yield benefits. In last years UK trials we saw yield increases of up to 10% over standard varieties and that is likely to improve as UK farmers get used to growing hybrids."
UK growers will have limited access to two Hybrinova varieties this autumn – Hyno Esta and Hyno Seha. Both are being demonstrated at the CWS Broadoak/Profarma open days at Cockayne Hatley in Bedfordshire (see panel).
There are no plans to include them in NIAB trials, since standard plots, sown at a standard seed rate, with standard nitrogen, herbicide, PGR and fungicide programmes will prove little, says Mr Chisholm.
Profarmas Craig Morgan has been looking at these hybrids as part of the companys Select Agronomy programme for two seasons. "The hybrid vigour and fast development of Hydro Seha allows the variety to perform well in late drilling situations," says Mr Morgan.
"It seems to do best on the better soil types such as well structured sandy loams. Hyno Esta performs well on a range of soil types including the heavier sandy-clay loams so should not just be targeted at lower potential soils.
"Seed-rates are up to two times lower than standard varieties – from 100 to 200 seeds per square metre and nitrogen needs to be managed differently to maximise their potential," he says.
"Fungicide programmes should not be very different to other conventional varieties. Our trials suggest strobilurin + triazole mixes perform well. However, with low seed-rates, good herbicide management is essential," he warns.
"Its going to be the growers who get in early and gain the experience of managing hybrids on their land who will reap the most benefit from the novel marketing opportunities as they come along," suggests Mr Morgan. *
After numerous false starts in the past hybrid wheats now look set to deliver a yield, quality and agronomy boost to UK crops, says Craig Chisholm of DuPont.
See for yourself
See the difference for yourself at the CWS Broadoak/Profarma Open Days at Cockayne Hatley, Sandy, Bedfordshire on 27 and 28 June 2000. Admission is free. Tel: 0115 921 8432 for details.