Arable News

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CAT members called to Winter Conference

Cambridge Arable Technologies staged its Members Winter Conference in late January. Dominic Kilburn attended.

Cambridge Arable Technologies (CAT) staged its Members Winter Conference on the Suffolk/Cambridgeshire border in late January. Dominic Kilburn attended.

Cambridge Arable Technologies’ varieties specialist, Richard Fenwick (left) opened the trials organisation’s Members Winter Conference with the clear message; “If you want to improve your wheat yields then drill earlier, but remember that you will encounter an increased level of problems to deal with.”

Presenting data from CAT’s first wheat variety trials (2014), Richard compared average yields of early-sown (13.42t/ha) and late-sown (11.05t/ha) plots, as well as comparing medium input trial yields (12.43t/ha) with high input (12.73t/ha).

In addition, he highlighted good-performing second wheat results where average yields were 11.82t/ha.

“It’s clear that there was only a small increase in yield when comparing a high input regime with a medium, and a clear advantage in drilling early over late.

“At 11.05t/ha you are clearly losing yield compared with the earlier drilled varieties but of course that does come with the additional problems of increased disease pressure and potential lodging risk, as well as challenges from black-grass,” he commented.

“2014 was a bad year for disease and so untreated yields in trials were particularly low at 7.2t/ha,” added Richard.

Drill timing
Of the early-drilled (12th September) varieties in the trials, Santiago yielded best at 104 per cent (against a control of 13.42t/ha) with Evolution at 102.

For ‘mid-season’ drilling (4th October), Santiago lost 6 per cent of yield compared with its early-drilled performance while Evolution lost 9 per cent.

Interestingly, pointed out Richard, hybrid wheat variety Hybery only lost 2 per cent of its yield when comparing its mid-season drill timing yield with early drilled – the lowest reduction in yield from early- to mid-drilling of all the wheat varieties in the trials.

Turning to late drilled (16th November) crops, Santiago suffered a 17 per cent loss in yield from its early-drilled result while Hybery, again, lost very little.

According to Richard, second wheat trials demonstrated that seed treatment Latitude (silthiofam) gave an average of 0.2t/ha increase in yield over the control of Redigo Deter (clothianidin + prothioconazole)-treated crops, delivering a positive economic response.

Fungicide costs
Based on a wheat price of 125/t, input trials in 2014 determining margin over fungicide cost concluded that “disease susceptible” KWS Kielder was the only variety that made a profit when treated with a high input (200/ha) fungicide regime, when compared with other varieties which included Santiago (also disease susceptible); JB Diego and Zulu (medium disease resistance); Evolution and Revelation (good resistance) and Cougar (very good resistance).

“The message there is that fungicides should be carefully chosen and tailored to how disease resistant your varieties are,” stated Richard.

Nitrogen rates
Eight nitrogen rates up to 400kg/ha were trialed by CAT in 2014 (using varieties JB Diego and Hybery) in a first and second wheat situation, and where the soil nitrogen supply was 83.4kg N/ha (first wheat after OSR) and 60.3kg N/ha (second wheat).

“For the first wheat trial the recommended nitrogen application was 225kg N/ha but the optimum yield was achieved at 320kg N/ha, for both varieties.
“It’s only one year’s trial but JB Diego and Hybery could both achieve higher yields with nitrogen rates above those recommended, but when more than the optimum rate was applied, yield was lost,” said Richard.

In a second wheat situation, where 245kg N/ha was the recommended rate, the optimum application rate for JB Diego was 270kg N/ha and 310kg N/ha for Hybery.
“We are seeing the ability of Hybery to go to a greater depth and make use of the available nitrogen,” pointed out Richard.

The margin over nitrogen cost was 40.50/ha for both varieties in a first wheat situation, and 10/ha for JB Diego and 18.50/ha for Hybery in a second wheat situation.

“It does pay to put a bit more N on over and above recommended rates,” he added.
Drawing conclusions from three years of CAT sulphur trials, Richard said that, for an increase in yield, either increase the quantity of sulphur applied at the start of the season or, if sticking to the usual amounts, apply little and often throughout the season. The latter also applied when an increase in protein levels was required, he advised.

Variety choice
“Definitely worth a try if you grow milling wheat,” was NIAB TAG cereal variety specialist Clare Leaman’s (left) opening statement about Group 1 variety KWS Trinity, as she presented some of the newly recommended winter wheat variety options to CAT members.

Currently going through nabim milling trials, Clare said that KWS Trinity would sit nicely alongside existing Group 1 varieties Skyfall and Crusoe, and coming with good straw and good disease resistance for rusts, mildew and fusarium.

She added that milling results for the variety should be known later this month, or in April.

Group 2
Group 2 KWS Lili comes with high yield (equal to Santiago), a good agronomic and disease resistance package, explained Clare, and offered growers wide marketing opportunities including feed, bread-making and quality export markets.

“Like Trinity, it’s on the lower end of the specifications for protein but it has produced good loaf volumes at these levels,” she advised.

“It has the right P/L characteristics for ukp cargoes,” added Clare.
Better as a first wheat, she said that Lili was a later maturing variety and, like Einstein was in the past, it should be grown as a feed but will have wider market appeal.

Group 3
Although biscuit making Group 3 Britannia is on the low side for Hagberg, the variety has good specific weight and yield (similar to soft Group 4 Leeds). “This variety brings the Group 3s up to soft Group 4 levels and it suits the multiple markets including biscuit, export and feed,” Clare commented. “Of concern is that it is relatively weak strawed and I’d be nervous about it growing on lodging-prone land, but it does feature good resistance to yellow rust and septoria tritici.”

Yielding lower (101 per cent) in Group 3 is RGT Conversion and will mainly be for the distilling market, said Clare, although she didn’t rule out biscuit and feed markets.

“There’s already a lot of choice in Group 3 and so it’s hard to see at this stage where this one will sit, but perhaps the distilling market is where the focus should be.”

RGT Conversion comes with good resistance to lodging and a good disease resistance package, she highlighted.

Group 4
Reflection arrives as the top yielding variety on the Recommended List (107), with a solid disease profile and early to mature compared with its competitors in the hard Group 4s, she said. “It’s got decent straw and ripening like Dickens and JB Diego and so it’s slightly earlier to harvest.

“With a yellow rust rating of 6, it’s similar to Santiago and for most that is manageable as long as partner varieties are chosen well,” advised Clare.

“With a good specific weight it will make a good partner variety for those that have a low specific weight,” she added.

Another new entry for Group 4 (hard) is Costello, which was a Candidate variety last year but not National Listed. This variety, explained Clare, has a high untreated yield (95) as well as a high treated yield at 104 – similar to Santiago and Dickens and at 2 per cent above JB Diego.

“Costello has good disease resistance in terms of yellow and brown rust, as well as decent septoria and good straw.

“In addition it has a good Hagberg for a feed wheat and high specific weight,” she pointed out.
“Costello is another ‘partner’ variety allowing growers to spread the risk and manage more easily across their wheat portfolio. And, if it’s kept separate, there may be an opportunity to get a premium if the market is right,” added Clare.

Summing up new winter barley varieties, Clare highlighted newcomers’ 2-row feed KWS Infinity and 6-row feed Daxor.

Varieties to consider for the coming season, she said, include SY Venture and Talisman (malting), and KWS Glacier; KWS Tower; KWS Infinity and Volume (feed).

New spring barley varieties available included RGT Planet; Olympus; Deveron; Sienna; Vault; Octavia and Scholar.

Spring varieties to consider included Sanette, KWS Irina and Odyssey (malting) and RGT Planet; KWS Irina; Sanette; Shada and Scholar (feed).

Opportunities ahead?
Although the grain price is low for the second consecutive year, AHDB Market Intelligence lead analyst, Jack Watts (left) said that there will be opportunities ahead but growers must plan for the medium term, rather than gamble on the hope of a last minute price rally.

Two reasonably sized global crops in the past two seasons has put downward pressure on the price with production out-stripping demand, said Mr Watts, however he pointed out that demand for grains globally was consistently growing at 1.5-2 per cent each year. “Yes, we are in a second year of low prices but at the same time we are only one weather event away from higher prices.

“There will be opportunities – just look at what has happened with the weather over the past five years,” he added.

Other factors affecting UK wheat producers included the increasing dominance of maize in terms of global plantings, explained Mr Watts. “Imports of maize grains for feed into the north of England, and with more compounders using the crop, are a short-term concern for the feed wheat market. We currently have a lot of Group 4 wheat in the UK as well as quality wheats that failed to meet the protein spec and so we are not seeing enough of the crop being exported.”

Mr Watts said that currencies are having their usual affect on grain markets with the strength of sterling against the euro forcing UK exporters to target non-EU markets. Normally, 5-10 per cent of the UK exported wheat crop goes outside Europe but he estimated that this figure could rise to as much as 33 per cent.

A weak rouble has made Russian wheat very competitive, although if export restrictions are extended to the new crop it could have an affect on prices, said Mr Watts.

“The world is becoming more reliant on spring planted grains like maize, and therefore more reliant on spring weather and a narrowing of the window to get crops planted.

“The 2015 price will be driven by the weather over the next few months and so keeping up to speed with the markets is key,” he concluded.

Oil markets
Presenting an oilseed market outlook, AHDB senior analyst Amandeep Kaur Purewal, (left) said that, like wheat, there had been two consecutive years of big oil crops globally (425mt in 2014/2015), which included a 14 per cent increase in EU rapeseed production to a record 24.1mt.

“A typical global production figure would be 350mt, as we saw between 2010 and 2013, and so it shows how total production can rise quickly. However the key point is the dominance of soyabeans in the global oilseeds market which represents 75 per cent of the total,” commented Amandeep.

“Paris rapeseed prices are linked to Chicago soyabean prices and, with US soyabean stocks at their highest level since 2006, with a lot to dispose of, that’s what is pushing the price down,” she added.

Amandeep also highlighted the relationship between the vegetable oil price and that of crude oil. “Pre-2007 there was no relationship between these two but, since then, because of more oil crops being used in the production of biodiesel, there is a clear link, and so when the crude oil price plummets to $50 a barrel demand for vegetable oil crops falls,” she explained.

“In addition, Germany has changed its biofuel quota legislation and now there is an emphasis to use feedstocks such as palm oil, which could reduce greenhouse gas emissions further. This is still unclear at the moment but Germany is one of the biggest users of OSR for biodiesel and so it could have an impact in terms of overall demand on rapeseed,” said Amandeep.

In terms of UK rapeseed production for 2015, she said that the early picture was a 3-4 per cent decline in planted area (from a historically high figure), but currency exchange rates were still maintaining pressure on UK delivered prices.

“From a bullish perspective, as well as the UK, there is an expected decline in the area of rapeseed being grown in 2015 across the major producing nations of Poland, France and Germany, however that has to be tempered by the possibility of another large US soyabean area on the cards,” Amandeep concluded.

Black-grass survey
A survey carried out on its grower members by trials company Cambridge Arable Technologies (CAT), confirmed that all respondents had issues with black-grass on their farms and that, in the worst affected fields, the financial impact was as much as 500/ha.

Presenting the data on behalf of CAT, John Foster said that the survey showed that over 75 per cent of respondents were introducing fresh control measures on their farms including a greater use of stale seedbeds and an increased use of glyphosate, as well as more spring cropping, attention to drainage issues and changes in wheat variety selection.

According to John, 25 per cent of respondents claimed that resistant black-grass was the key problem on their farms with chemistry unable to control it, while 50 per cent of respondents were already stacking pre-em herbicides routinely and 55 per cent were rotational ploughing every 3-6 years.
Members also grew sugar beet, spring wheat, grass, linseed and oats.

Black-grass control lessons learned from those surveyed suggested that timeliness of herbicide applications was essential, particularly in the case of Avadex (tri-allate) at pre-emergence, and the use of pre-harvest glyphosate and uniform inversion when ploughing were also beneficial.

Clare Leaman’s top winter wheat choices for the coming season
Group 1: Skyfall, KWS Trinity, Crusoe
Group 2: KWS Lili, Cordiale (still in great demand)
Group 3: Britannia, Monterey
Group 4 (soft): Leeds, Revelation
Group 4 (hard): Reflection, Evolution, KWS Santiago, Dickens, Costello

  • Written by: Farmers Guide
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