December 17, 2013
Best of British Wheat Update – What a difference a year makes
This year’s 15 tonne challenge crop for the Best of British Wheat initiative was drilled on the 21st September into warm soils with adequate moisture for good establishment. We’ve chosen to use Group 4 wheat variety Dickens, a recent addition to the Recommended List with chart topping yields and a good quality berry. The seed was dressed with Redigo Deter, manganese and a phosphite coating to maximise rooting potential and aid establishment. To date the wheat has been developing well, with 2-3 tillers alongside the main shoot.
Our target this year is to drive yields from the bottom up, focusing on nutrition to build a crop with the potential for high yields. At the Salisbury site shallow soil depth is a large limiting factor, with little soil we unsurprisingly have a reduced nutrition capacity. To begin with we will take broad spectrum soil analysis to assess not only the levels of macro-nutrients (P, K, Mg) available to us, but also the availability of micro-nutrients. No one nutrient will be responsible for increasing yield, therefore we need to match our inputs to the requirement of the crop, targeting specific areas in order to optimise uptake. Once we have our base programme addressed we will then monitor nutrition levels within the plant via tissue analysis throughout the growing season and adjust inputs accordingly.
One key nutrient of course, is nitrogen. We will assess soil levels of readily available nitrogen in late winter, which when added to the amount of nitrogen already in the plant, will allow us to calculate the remaining requirement of nitrogen according to yield aspirations. When we have these figures we can begin to develop an application sequence.
As yet it is too early to predict what conditions we can expect in the coming growing season. However, the mild start to the winter has led to established disease presence within most early drilled crops. Septoria can be found on the older leaves and if conditions remain mild we may need to treat before the usual T0 timing, which is typically in the middle of March.
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