Winter wheat varieties – movers and shakers in 2017

This season has been a mixed bag for growers with unsettled weather and mixed yield and quality results at harvest.

This range of results have made drilling decisions slightly more challenging this autumn. The emphasis for most has been to look more carefully at varieties that offer consistency – even in difficult years. Therefore, focus has shifted slightly away from out-and-out yield and agronomics have become a key component of the decision-making process.

When speaking with growers’ this autumn, a lot of the conversations have been around other factors such as disease resistance, early maturity, straw strength and grain quality, with many wanting to select a variety which offers marketability and consistency, even at the expense of top yields. High yielding varieties which have obvious weaknesses, such as Evolution and Santiago have therefore been less popular. However, varieties such as Graham and KWS Siskin have had a good year in terms of commercial sales, as they offer superior disease resistance, as well as that reliability factor demonstrated by good yields on farm this year.

One characteristic that remains on everyone’s mind this season, is septoria resistance, even though 2017 did see high levels in most crops. For western growers in particular, choosing a variety which has a strong resistance level to this disease can make a huge difference to achieving yield potentials, therefore varieties such as Graham, LG Sundance and Dunston have all sold well.

Another trend this year has been the move away from JB Diego. Many Diego growers have used the introduction of a number of new feed wheats as the ideal time to try a new variety in the second wheat slot. Some of the most popular replacements have been the new varieties, Shabras, Dunston and KWS Zyatt. All these options offer improved agronomics as well as good yields in the second wheat position.

As we now head into the late drilling period, growers will have slightly fewer options but there are still varieties which offer reliability, marketability and yield performance when sown over the late autumn/ winter period.

KWS Siskin is one of my top recommendations for this position. It has the potential to reach big yields when sown late as it gets away well in the autumn. It also has a fairly strong agronomic package, with particularly good resistance to septoria and yellow rust– with the added bonus of a potential premium for breadmaking.

For more advice on late sowing options, please call 01939 210777.

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