Wheat variety Reflection has exceeded yield expectations following a high disease pressure year that many farmers and agronomists would rather forget.
Independent agronomist, Malcolm Williams explains that there’s been continual disease pressure on crops since the very wet conditions which lasted from early November until the end of February.
“This meant many struggled to get onto fields, at the right time, and that led to a number of problems for arable farmers.
“We don’t usually suffer badly with yellow rust in the west, but this year we saw increased disease pressure.
“One farmer who I work closely with based near Ross on Wye, BH Savidge and Son, saw a particular rust issue in winter wheat variety Reflection, but we caught it very early, and then put in place a control programme which we felt would deal with it pretty effectively,” he adds.
“Yellow Rust was not an issue early on, but it had been a particularly mild winter, and any overwintering inoculum that was about last autumn survived quite happily.
“We bolstered the fungicide programme at T0 to deal with the disease pressure seen, and then followed with a robust T1, T2, T3. In some cases, as with the Reflection, a T4 was necessary to stop any late yellow rust coming in. However, after the initial onset, we never really had any further problems.
“With Mark’s crop now harvested, we’ve seen excellent results of around 10t/ha. In stark contrast for this year, and the generally poorer average yields, we’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well Reflection has delivered.
“A well-timed fungicide programme is key, but if we can repeat or do even better than some of the yields this year, then I’m very optimistic about the variety in the western regions for next year.
“However, any one growing Reflection in 2017 needs to be aware of the rust risk and not put too many pressures on sprayer capacity just in case weather intervenes, as it has a nasty habit of doing.”
Mark Savidge explains that growing new varieties comes with inherent challenges. “We have to sit down and really look at what we’re doing, and what suits our system as it can be a risk to grow new and unproven varieties. But generally, I think the benefits out way the risks.
“We’ve found Reflection very good this year. Everyone seemed to be writing it off early on in the season, but it’s done alright for us. The proof is in the yields, and it’s performed better than we expected.”