Top Tips for Selecting the Right Cereal Variety for 2019 - David Bouch - Agronomist & Arable Farmer

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There are some exciting new varieties available to cereal growers this autumn but think carefully about what’s right for your farm before ordering seed, leading agronomy firm Hutchinsons says.

Understanding what will work best in your location, soil type, rotation, pest and disease pressures is vital, as is selecting a range of varieties to spread risk and ease crop management through the season, says national seed manager David Bouch.

“There are no golden rules to variety selection, but it pays to look at region-specific data, such as local trials, to see what does well in your area.  Considering end market options and the specification required is also key for any crop, especially wheat.”

Choosing varieties that perform consistently across regions can be worthwhile as it indicates they’re unlikely to be weak in any one aspect, he adds.

While high yields from the likes of RGT Gravity and KWS Kerrin (106%) are desirable and will both be popular this autumn, Mr Bouch says there may be good reasons to select a variety that yields slightly less.

Agronomic characteristics that benefit crop management or mitigate risk, such as strong disease resistance or suitability to late drilling or second wheat situations, often outweigh a slightly lower yield.  “Gleam is a stand-out example and only marginally off the top in pure yield.”

Costello is a different example that yields around 3-4% below the top Group 4s, but its all-round disease resistance, stiff straw and good grain quality make it relatively “safe” to grow, especially in areas such as the southwest where it is gaining share from Diego, he says.

Likewise, Skyfall’s disease scores, orange wheat blossom midge resistance and acceptance by millers have made it a popular Group 1 among growers targeting designated milling markets and those looking for a low-risk wheat with flexibility for different markets.

“It will be popular again next season as it hasn’t let anyone down.”

Mr Bouch outlines several varieties of particular interest for 2018/19, summarized below.

Barley options

Hyvido hybrid barley varieties have become dominant over recent years, both in traditional barley-growing areas and in regions where growers have chosen barley for black-grass control, such as eastern England.

They currently account for around one third of the barley market and Mr Bouch believes they will remain popular next season.