Yield Enhancement Network 2017

Winter Wheat YEN

Entering its fifth year, this project is going from strength to strength with 100 entries in 2016 including submissions from Denmark and Holland.

Wheat yields have been disappointing in 2016 compared to 2015. The winner of the 2015 competition achieved a yield of 16.5t/ha compared to 13t/ha in 2016. Average YEN yields were also lower: 12.7t/ha in 2015 compared to 10.3t/ha in 2016.

Despite this there has been a lot to learn this year about how crops use the basic resources of light and water. Light has been the main limiting factor in 2016, but surprisingly overall light levels have been similar to the long term average. It is the dull June weather that has had a major impact on wheat yields, reducing the crop’s ability to accumulate biomass and restricting grain size. Water has also influenced yield in 2016 - normally lack of water limits yield potential, but in 2016 the reverse is true with excess water in the winter period restricting rooting, coupled with wet soils in June decreasing the crop’s ability to maintain ear numbers and produce stem carbohydrates.

High temperatures in June and July also depleted the crop’s carbohydrate stores and a largenumber of crops finished quickly because of high July temperatures.The high performers in the 2016 competition came from the North of the UK and Denmark and this is explained by better light levels in June in these areas compared to southern and central England.

These findings reinforce the importance of good soil management, nutrition, plant protection and informed variety choice in moderating the impact of adverse climatic conditions. The farmer’s and the agronomist’s understanding of the processes affecting yield and how to influence yield positively have also been highlighted as a major influence on yield performance.

Most farmers are joining yield enhancement projects to understand how they can improve crop performance on their own individual site.

It is interesting to compare variety yield performance at eight of the Hutchinsons research centres. On average, choosing the best variety for the site will have a positive effect on yield of 1.34t/ha, whereas site differences, which will include factors like soil type, rotation and soil management result in much larger yield differences of 5.52t/ha.

It is understanding the drivers behind this that is motivating farmers to get more involved with YEN projects. The Wheat YEN competition is open for entries in 2017 and it will include a quality wheat category this year.

Oilseed Rape YEN

An oilseed rape YEN project has been launched for harvest 2017. This project is being managed along similar lines to the wheat competition.

There is plenty to learn about the factors which influence oilseed rape yield; the national average for this crop has been 3.5t/ha for the last five years – just compare this to the UK record of 7t/ha and a calculated yield potential figure of 10t/ha.

Beet Yield Competition

Following a pilot study in 2016, access to this competition will be more widely available in 2017.

This competition is focused on performance against site yield potential rather than yield and prizes will be awarded for the best performance in a factory area and also an overall country champion.

Site potential will be determined using the BBRO crop model which includes sowing date, along with soil and climatic factors.

This competition will enable sugar beet growers, agronomists and researchers to work together to find out how best to improve sugar beet yields and share best practice, to contribute to the future success of the UK sugar beet crop.

  • In the UK, sugar beet crops have produced 145 tonnes per hectare, but the national average is less than half of this.

To register your interest, please email your name, contact details and grower number to: [email protected]


Pea yields, based on Defra data, appear not to have improved for thirty years. Part of the accepted reasoning behind this; is the crop is more vulnerable than most to the vagaries of the climate. However, there is still a gulf between the highest yielding crops and the average nationally recorded yield, which would indicate there is considerable room for improvement in factors that are under our control.

Although only in its inaugural year in 2016, the YEN Pea project is aiming to benchmark, through farmer involvement, the key attributes that determine yield and to understand their relative importance. The starting point is to determine if the crop is predominantly light or water limited.

In common with the cereal crop, early indications would suggest biomass and secondly its partitioning between seed and straw might have a major and consistent bearing on yield

Interested in participating in a YEN project this season?

Please email Dr Bob Bulmer at [email protected]