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The lessons growers can take from harvest 2019 – Agronomist & Arable Farmer – Bob Bulmer

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Bob BulmerDr Bob Bulmer, Hutchinsons trials and research manager, reviews 2019 harvest results from crop development sites around the country.

Yields for winter wheat were generally very good in 2019 and only bettered in 2015.

Further analysis will probably show that conditions for grain filling were very good last year, resulting in some exceptional yields, according to Dr Bob Bulmer.

“2019 saw smaller differences between sites compared to 2018, perhaps reflecting good soil water availability in 2019,” he says.

“On average, the yield differences between the highest yielding site, Ludlow, and the lowest, Morton-on-Swale, was 3t/ha.

“Ludlow produced the highest yield at 17.1t/ha and the average yield across the varieties at this site was 14.4t/ha.”

He notes that Morton-on-Swale was the most stable site in terms of yield with an average yield of 11.4t/ha.

“The response to fungicides and plant growth regulators (PGRs) was high, a combined effect of high disease pressure (particularly Septoria) and heavy bouts of rain causing widespread problems with lodging," Dr Bulmer adds.

However, what did show up clearly in 2019 was the variation in yields. The highest yielding treated variety was RGT Saki, at 13.4t/ha and the lowest yielding variety was Revelation, at 11.3 t/ha a difference of around 1t/ha more than usual variety differences.

The analysis also reveals a big contrast in the variety response to fungicides and PGRS. Hybrid wheat HyKing had the lowest response (0.2t/ha) whilst RGT Gravity the largest response at 4t/ha.

 

Seed rates

Hutchinsons ran a series of trials examining the effect of a range of different seed rates on wheat yields. Two varieties were chosen, LG Sundance and KWS Siskin, and plots were drilled at five seed rates: 150, 250, 350 and 450 seeds/m. This equates to 75, 125, 175 and 225kg/ha at a thousand grain weight of 50g.

Results showed that LG Sundance was more sensitive to seed rate than KWS Siskin, producing the best yield at higher seed rates. In contrast KWS Siskin yield was less affected by seed rate. The highest yield was produced at a seed rate of 350 seeds/m.

Dr Bulmer says: “Tiller retention was good in 2019, which will have masked the effect of seed rate to some degree. The main message is to judge the seed rate to the situation and be realistic about seed survival rates. Seed losses can be very high in poor conditions, at over 50%."

 

Winter barley

Winter barley yields in 2019 were much higher than in the previous years, points out Dr Bulmer. Disease and plant growth regulator responses were also high this year. There were large yield responses to fungicides at some of the sites, where ramularia was a particular problem.

Morton-on-Swale was the highest yielding site at 11t/ha and Carlisle the lowest yielding at 10t/ha.

There was a contrast in variety performance averaged across the sites, he adds. “Sobell had the highest treated yield of 12.1t/ha and KWS Gimlet the lowest yield of 7.7t/ha. Gimlet needs good management with plant growth regulators to prevent lodging and yield loss,” Dr Bulmer says.

"On average the difference between six row hybrids and two row varieties was small 10.6t/ha compared to 10.5 t/ha.”

 

Winter wheat yields 2015 to 2019

Year

Treated yield (t/ha)

Untreated yield (t/ha)

Yield response (t/ha)

Theoretical yield potential (t/ha)

% of yield potential

2019

12.42

9.94

2.49

20

62

2018

10.45

8.91

1.54

20

52

2017

11.91

9.27

2.46

20

59

2016

11.17

8.4

2.77

20

55

2015

12.59

10.82

1.77

20

62

Average

11.53

9.35

2.14

20

58

 

Winter barley yields - years 2016 to 2019

Year

Treated yield (t/ha)

Untreated yield (t/ha)

Yield response (t/ha)

Theoretical yield potential (t/ha)

% of yield potential

2019

10.49

8.29

2.2

14

74.9

2018

9

7.7

1.3

14

64.3

2017

8.7

7

1.7

14

62.1

2016

8.2

7.2

1.4

14

58.6

Average

8.6

7.3

1.4

14

65.0