Contractfarming well beyond the catchment of any major miller means feed varieties withgood yield potential and a robust disease profile are key for Norfolk growerKit Papworth.
LF Papworth Ltd has 400ha of wheat in the groundthis season across a total contract farmed area of 1,500ha north of Norwich,including 75ha of Evolution alongside around 20 other wheat varieties.
Seed crops account for 20% of everything grown andprovide a good opportunity to see how different varieties perform, Mr Papworthsays. A lot of the wheat we grow is in rotation with sugar beet and potatoes,so conditions can often be quite challenging.
Were contract farmers so strive for yield and thebiggest issue influencing that is soil. A lot of the land we farm is lightsandy loam, which is good for potatoes and root crops, but not so good forwheat, so we take extra care to select varieties that suit individualsituations.
We aim for wheats to achieve 10t/ha, but it can bequite variable depending on the weather and previous cropping, especially whereits going in late after potatoes or sugar beet, he says.
Last year was the second time weve grownEvolution and it did at least 10t/ha. This year crops are a bit behind normalin terms of growth, but look pretty clean, so will hopefully do well.
Mr Papworth values the yield potential and strongdisease profile of Evolution [rated 9 for yellow rust, 8 brown rust and 6 forseptoria] and believes this is an aspect that will become increasinglyimportant as regulatory pressure reduces the amount of chemistry available togrowers.
Im absolutely convinced that with the increasingdifficulty of getting products registered the answer to disease control is increasinglynot in a can. We are all going to have to better utilise all methods availablealongside chemical control. Natural plant resistance is a big part of that,together with rotation and other cultural control.
Mr Papworth tailors wheat fungicides to individualvarieties and disease pressure, but generally favours a strong protectantfour-spray approach based around chlorothalonil at T0, followed by an SDHI atboth T1 and T2 and a T3 ear wash.
Cultivation strategy varies depending on thepreceding crop, with minimum tillage favoured where possible. In some cases,such as after sugar beet or potatoes he may opt for a Sumo Trio, or evenreturns to the plough depending on conditions.
Around 210-220kg nitrogen/ha is typically appliedto wheats, split three ways between an early 70kg N/ha plus sulphur in lateFebruary/ early March, followed by two more equal doses three to four weeksapart. Exact rate does depend on the crop potential, whats already in thesoil and weather, he notes.