What’s New for Autumn Cereal Sowing 2018?
11th September 2018

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With the harvest almost complete, thoughts turn to starting the cycle again and what varieties to sow for next harvest. As always there is no perfect variety to suit every situation but there are a number of parameters to use when choosing a variety. Ray Morrison, Technical Manager at Fane Valley Agronomy and Forage Division outlines what varieties are popular this Autumn.

When we look at barley the main factors to consider are soil type, yield, standing power, disease resistance and end market. When we look at the end market the first question to ask is, how important are size of grain and grain quality? This is to make a choice between hybrid six row and conventional two row. Most believe that hybrids will produce lower specific weight grain but this is not the case. The average specific weight of the two row feed varieties on the AHDB recommended list is 68.4 compared to hybrid barley at 68.4, exactly the same. The confusion comes about because of grain size or thousand grain weight, six row varieties have smaller grain but not lower specific weight.

The main hybrids for this Autumn are Belfry and Sunningdale. Both offer good all round disease resistance especially to rhynchosporium with Sunningdale having the edge on mildew. All hybrid barleys require a good growth regulator programme because of their height but Belfry offers the best lodging resistance. With straw values at high levels this may be a factor in favour of hybrid barley with their extra straw yield. Hybrids have been on the market for over 10 years and do seem to offer more consistent yields with less variation between seasons.

In conventional two row varieties the market has been dominated by one breeder KWS who have bred a succession of top yielding varieties. KWS Infinity and KWS Tower have been market leaders these past two years offering an improvement in yield and disease resistance over the once popular KWS Cassis. KWS Orwell and Surge from Syngenta are new varieties which offer small improvements in yield over existing varieties and in the case of Surge class leading resistance to rhynchosporium and net blotch, scoring 7 for both.

The same parameters for choosing a wheat variety are similar to barley with place in rotation and sowing date additional factors to be considered. Graham has become the most widely sown variety in Northern Ireland because it ticks a lot of boxes. First, it offers one of the best resistance figures for septoria tritici (6.9) on the AHDB list and this is an important factor due to the reduced level of control of this yield robbing disease we get from our present armoury of fungicide products. It will most likely be 2020 before we see new chemistry for the control of septoria. Combining yield, disease resistance and good standing power with the ability to be sown early it is difficult to go past.

Secondly, wheat situation Shabras and the new variety Gleam offer class leading performance combined with a good all round agronomic package. Both have a figure of 6.2 for resistance to septoria tritici which is above the average for feed varieties and the market leader of two years ago JB Diego (5.3).  Bennington from breeder Elsoms offers a good all round variety with a 6.4 for septoria and one the best specific weights available.

In oats the choice is relatively simple with Mascani the preferred winter variety for the oat milling market at Whites. This is due to its high kernel content which no new variety has been able to match. For the feed market RGT Victorious is the equal highest yielding variety on the AHDB list, some 7% ahead of Mascani. RGT Victorious is the only variety to offer an 8.0 for resistance to crown rust.

A final thought not on varieties but on seeding rates for this Autumn. When we look at seed lots from this harvest there is a larger than normal variation in thousand grain weight which can have a big impact on seeding rates. We have seen some lots of locally produced seed with record breaking TGW’s. This has come about because of moisture availability to the growing crop. This could mean that seeding rates could vary by over 30kgs per hectare for the same species.

For advice and full details of varieties please contact the Fane Valley Agronomy and Forage team on 028 4066 2521