Trials open day reveals value of hybrid wheat
Hybrid Wheat’s popularity continues to grow on the Continent, while in the UK new varieties are being selected on the basis of performance under UK growing conditions.
At a recent Hybrid Wheat open day hosted by CROPCO on Saaten Union’s Rosalie Field Station near Newmarket, farmers and seed merchants were able to inspect over 50 varieties currently in replicated trials on this site and in Lincolnshire.
In France, uptake has been increasing steadily with 2011 seed sales reaching 170,000 ha; around 7% of the certified seed market.
A recent survey of 500 French farmers found that growers rated consistency of yield foremost, as hybrid varieties tolerate difficult growing conditions.
In particular, growers commented on better tillering, improved results in difficult soils, higher yields and greater “robustness”. Overall, a satisfaction index of 95% was achieved. Many farmers had started with just one field and expanded year-on-year to a level in the range of 20 – 34% of their annual wheat production.
The survey indicated a practical advantage in yield of 0.94 tonnes/ha compared to the farmer’s preferred conventional variety. Independent trials support the farmers’ experience.
Dr Richard Jennaway heads Saaten Union’s UK trials and said:
“Hybrid Wheat’s extra vigour or heterosis means it copes better with variable weather conditions, has generally good disease resistance and gives greater consistency. It develops a larger root mass than conventional wheat and can therefore cope with dry conditions and poorer soils. There is some evidence it also survives better in waterlogged land.”
Research on the continent has also suggested there are benefits from limiting early nitrogen to harness the hybrid’s ability to scavenge during early growth stages. UK trials with different N regimes are planned for next season.
Saaten Union’s Hystar was first marketed in the UK by CROPCO for the 2011 harvest season. Over 1500 acres is currently being grown across the country.
John Poulton of CROPCO said:
“Hybrid wheat comes into its own when the going gets tough and conventional varieties are unable to reach their full potential. We seldom have the perfect growing season and most farms have some sub-optimum land which why Hybrid Wheat is useful and by improving the whole farm average, gross margins will increase overall.”Further information is available at www.cropco.co.uk or on 01787 238200.
John Foster 01473 652195 firstname.lastname@example.org