The majority of UK growers are considering an early September start to wheat drilling this autumn to ease their workload and reduce weather risk, according to the latest management study conducted by robust wheat breeding leaders, RAGT Seeds.
To what extent are you considering an early September
start to wheat drilling?
The study, involving nearly 350 arable enterprises with over 120,000 ha of wheat currently in the ground, shows more than half seriously considering early September drilling with only just over a quarter completely ruling it out (Figure 1).
“Easing autumn workload pressures is the main reason behind growers’ enthusiasm for an earlier than normal start to wheat drilling,” reports study co-ordinator, Chris Black. “Fully two thirds of them see it as the main benefit, while well over a third in each case identify reducing weather risk, increasing yields and getting drilled-up earlier as important benefits.
“Many growers have very much larger areas of winter cereals to be established with limited labour and machinery these days,” he observes. “They are also having to get used to increasingly uncertain autumn weather. Under these circumstances, it really isn’t surprising that an early start to drilling is becoming a more important management consideration.”
Thankfully the RAGT Seeds study clearly shows most growers appreciate the dangers of getting things wrong by sowing their wheat too early and the need to be very careful in their variety selection to avoid disease, overly fast development and lodging problems in particular.
“Good standing ability, good disease resistance and a relatively slow speed of development stood out as the three key characteristics growers are seeking in varieties for early September drilling,” notes Chris Black.
“The fact that a significant minority of growers identify relatively fast development and a high tillering ability as key traits is a concern, however. “It indicates there remains a considerable risk of problems as a result of poor variety selection in some quarters.”
With the possible exception of Claire, there is relatively little cause for concern over the standing power of the 10 slowest developers to GS31 from early September sowing highlighted in the current Recommended List. Five of these varieties do raise some concern over disease resistance, though, with ratings of 5 or less for at least one key diseases; and three have to be of major concern for their even greater disease risk.
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