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    National Trend to Yield-Only Wheat Growing
01/07/08

An even higher proportion of this year’s wheat crop is being grown for yield alone, reveals RAGT Seeds’ annual wheat grower study published this week (June 30). And the trend away from growing for quality shows no sign of abating in 2008/9, increasing the opportunities for milling wheat growers still further.

© www.farm-images.co.uk

wheat harvest

Over 80% of the wheat currently in the ground is being grown solely for yield, according to the study which involved interviews with nearly 350 growers responsible for over 120,000 ha of wheat last month.  This compares with 76% of the acreage identified in the company’s parallel June 2007 study.

“The proportion of wheat being grown for any sort of premium has declined noticeably over the year, from 24% in 2007 to less than 20% this season, notes study co-ordinator, Chris Black. “Which means the bulk of Group 2 and 3 wheats are again only really being grown for yield.

“In spite of the attractive premiums paid for biscuit as well as milling wheats over the past winter, an equally small proportion of the 2009 crop looks being grown for a premium too.  This almost certainly reflects a combination of prices of over £150/t currently available for feed wheat next autumn, the escalating cost of key inputs – nitrogen, in particular – and growers’ increasingly conservative attitude to risk.

“Our 2007 study correctly predicted the attractive premium-earning opportunities likely to be available for quality wheat as a result of the overwhelming emphasis on growing for yield within last season’s crop.  If anything, the greater emphasis on yield alone in this year’s crop suggests even greater rewards for those able to capture quality this harvest. Especially so with significant questions marks over large areas of the continental milling wheat crop.”

While Chris Black is only too well aware of the dangers of trying to predict quality rewards too far into the future, he stresses that the coming year is likely to offer particular opportunities for growers who maintain a degree of flexibility by growing a reasonable proportion of Group 2 wheats in their 2009 crop. These can initially be grown for yield but with option of adding quality through appropriate management if market prospects continue to look favourable into the New Year.

In this respect, he recommends putting the emphasis on nitrogen efficiency as well as yield potential and the best all-round disease resistance and standing ability in variety selection, pointing to the great value of even a small advantage in N efficiency at current fertiliser prices.

Recommended List Group 2 Wheats  - Nitrogen Efficiency

Variety

Protein Yield @ 15%mc (t/ha)

N Efficiency (%) *

Marksman

1.12

81.5

Cordiale

1.09

79.5

Battalion

1.08

78.7

Einstein

1.07

77.9

Soissons

0.98

71.3

* Nitrogen yield (N content of protein yield) as a proportion of N applied
Calculated from RL 2008/9 data available at www.hgca.com

link Wheat Prices Rise But Are Farmers Better Off?
link Film Price Hike makes Round Bale Silage a Costly Option
link Watch for Cereal Disease as Warmer Weather Follows Wet April

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