Dominic Kilburn gets comment on one of the stand-out varieties with early drilling characteristics
With winter wheat drilling just around the corner, Dominic Kilburn gets comment on one of the stand-out varieties with early drilling characteristics.
Revelation’s robust disease resistance stands out compared with other varieties.
With wheat prices currently where they are, there should be more attention to detail than ever being paid to establishing crops this autumn, and particularly so for those planned to go in the ground during the first half of September.
That’s the opinion of Agrii’s East Yorkshire-based R&D northern manager, Jim Carswell (left) who has been involved in the company’s early sown winter wheat variety trials at its Crop Technology Centre at Bishop Burton, Beverley over the past two seasons (main pic above).
A number of varieties have been trialled including old favourites Claire and Alchemy, as well as hard Group 4 Grafton, and more contemporary Recommended List soft Group 4s Horatio and Revelation, particularly to see how the latter two perform in more northerly conditions.
“Lots of growers in the north who traditionally grew Claire and Alchemy will be experienced in growing early sown varieties and many have easily switched over to Horatio and Revelation, which both offer growth and development characteristics suitable to early sowing.
“However, Revelation not only has the slow growth habit that is required to prevent canopies becoming too lush in autumn which can harbour disease, but is also becoming increasingly popular due to its more robust disease resistance compared with others.”
With a RL disease rating of ‘6’ for septoria and ‘9’ and ‘8’ for yellow and brown rust respectively, Revelation continues to hold up remarkably well in trials this year, says Mr Carswell. “In this region I’ve seen a lot more yellow rust appearing in other varieties such as Horatio, and, due to the cool and moist conditions that seem to have prevailed this summer, active rust spores have remained in some varieties through to early/mid July which is something I’ve never seen before in this area.
“Revelation is later to mature than most varieties and, combined with its all-round disease resistance, this means that even though there has been a lot of late septoria coming into some crops recently, as well as rust on ears, the variety seems better placed to continue grain fill right through to harvest,” he explains.
“In last season’s trials, we expected Revelation to show lower bushel weights and higher moisture content at harvest due to its later maturity compared with other varieties harvested on the same day,” he continues, “but overall grain quality was very similar to Horatio in terms of bushel weight and there was only a one per cent difference in moisture content.
“This year we are looking again at these factors at harvest in what is turning out to be a very different season in terms of crop senescence,” Mr Carswell adds.
In addition, he says that seed rate trials undertaken last season (drilled 9th September) confirmed that Revelation, Horatio and Claire produced similar ear numbers per plant (5.3, 5.7 and 5.2 respectively) at the low rate of 100 seeds/m2; at higher seed rates of 200 and 300 seeds/m2, Revelation produced similar ear numbers to these other two varieties.
“Where seedbed conditions allow, these results give you confidence to look at low seed rates early in the season knowing that you will get sufficient canopy in the crop,” adds Mr Carswell, who points out that Revelation’s good standing power was also highlighted last season with no lodging in the trials, even at seed rates of 300 seeds/m2.
Sold for seed
Norfolk farmer Nick Hood is in his third season of growing Revelation, most of which is destined for seed and sold back to breeder Limagrain UK.
Other wheats at Cherry Tree Farm, Witton, just east of Norwich, are grown for seed and the open market (the latter sold through local central grain store and processor Yaregrain), and include Group 4 Evolution, Conqueror and Grafton, while winter and spring barley, oilseed rape, potatoes and sugar beet make up the rest of the rotation.
In addition, 100-head of pedigree South Devon beef cattle are farmed on the part-owned, tenanted and contracted 620ha (1,500 acre) unit.
According to Mr Hood, wheat is drilled from early September right through until mid-December; the later drilling follows root crop harvest. However Revelation is sown during the first half of the autumn – from mid-September through to mid-October – and always as a first wheat because of the lighter, sandy loam soils that are predominant in the area.
“Revelation either follows oilseed rape, potatoes or some of the earlier lifted beet and we’ve had decent results with the variety across the window, but particularly so with the earlier drilled crops,” he comments.
“We farm on 9-10t/ha land and Revelation has always been at the upper end of that,” he adds.
According to Mr Hood, mid-September seed rates start at 125kg/ha rising to around 150kg/ha by mid-October, and, accompanied by a Redigo Deter dressing for early crops and single purpose seed dressing for later, the variety always shows strong autumn tillering and vigorous spring growth, he says.
Key to the variety’s success on the farm however, believes Mr Hood, is its impressive disease resistance profile. “Revelation receives a standard spring fungicide from T0 through to T3, like other varieties on farm, but because of its resistance to the major diseases it does allow us to prioritise spraying in the spring those varieties with less robust resistance,” he comments.
“In 2012, the last really high disease pressure year for us, Revelation performed very well and was the leader of the pack under intense pressure from yellow rust.
“Importantly, it retains its green leaf much longer than other wheats, often being one of the last to be combined each season and gaining more summer fill than others,” adds Mr Hood, highlighting that Revelation has given good specific weights and physical grain qualities in each of the years it has been drilled on the farm.
Top tips for early sowing – Agrii’s Jim Carswell
– Soil moisture, seedbed conditions and seed-to-soil contact all key
– Avoid sowing early on fields with known black-grass problems
– Typically seed rates start around 125-150 seeds/m2 in early September
– Redigo Deter (clothianidin + prothioconazole) seed dressing essential
– Take care with drilling depth not too shallow for pre-em herbicides but not too deep (in the 5-6cm range).
– Roll after drilling
– Take account of pressure from slugs, particularly where following OSR – there are high populations currently and more wet weather will encourage them
– Consider using manganese seed treatment in lighter land situations to give crops a nutritional boost in the key early establishment phase
– There’s not one solution, but appropriate agronomy for early drilled crops is critical to getting the extra yield that they can potentially deliver.