Winter Wheat Trials 2024: Seed dressing a blessing in disguise?

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  • 08 May 2024

Winter Wheat Trials 2024: Seed dressing a blessing in disguise?

Every year, we operate a winter wheat variety trials site at Mountfair Farm in the Scottish Borders.

The site provides our agronomy team with significant amounts of data on individual varieties from season-to-season, which allows them to offer the most comprehensive advice to customers on the best variety – or varieties – to sow depending on their situation.

Last month, Technical Officer Rosie Hamilton visited the site to give an insight into the importance of variety choice and drilling dates this year, the impact of wet weather on crop health and the difference in growth habits between the early and late drilled plots.  

Early vs late

Similar to last year, we have sown both early and late drilled plots alongside our usual treated and untreated plots. At the moment, despite the weather we have had, the plots are looking really promising.

Challenges in fungicide programmes

This season has been a challenging one in terms of spray timings; it’s either been wet or windy, causing the spray windows to be narrowed and growers having to be more flexible in terms of when they are able to get into the fields. However, generally, a lot of the fertiliser has been applied, and grass seed control is being prioritised, with a lot of T0s being missed this season as crops are approaching their T1 timings in terms of winter barley.

In our wheat trials, our early drilled plots are approaching their T1 timings, and our later drilled plots are at T0 timings and await the appropriate treatments, pending suitable weather.

This year, variety choice and drilling dates are going to be extremely important in terms of our fungicide programmes. In particular, our wheat plots are going to get a robust T1 to protect leaf three.

Seed treatments

We have been monitoring growth and rooting patterns across all the varieties and have taken a closer look at seed treatments on a plot of LG Skyscraper that we have in the trial: Beret Gold, Vibrance Duo, and Latitude. The wet weather in the autumn led to some fields having poor established and shallow rooted crops. The purpose of the seed treatments is to protect the seed from soil and seed-borne diseases.

The Latitude is applied specifically for second wheats to control Take-all. Whilst visually, in the autumn emergence was very similar, we have now noticed some differences in the rooting, which is really promising and shows its efficacy in challenging conditions.

ST 21.11.23 (1)

(L-R), Skyscraper which has been applied with single purpose dressing of Beret Gold, Latitude and Vibrance Duo.

As you can see there is a clear difference between the length of the roots with Vibrance Duo ahead of the other two treatments. We put the seed treatments on to act as a bit of a comparison, not knowing that it was going to be such a wet and difficult season so it’s great to see that the Vibrance Duo has had a good effect on the roots.

We’re hopeful that, especially with the Vibrance Duo, that its good results on the roots will have a knock-on effect to the crop later in the season.

Disease risk

Currently, Septoria risk is elevated due to the adverse weather conditions, but we are glad to report that we haven’t seen any juvenile Yellow Rust yet. However, we will remain vigilant and will continue monitoring as the crops progress through their growth stages.

New varieties

Varieties in the trials this year include current favourites such as KWS Dawsum and LG Skyscraper, through to exciting new varieties like Bamford and LG Beowulf.

Bamford, in particular, looks like a promising variety with a seven scoring for Septoria. It also has good disease ratings for mildew and yellow rust, which complements the good yields that we've seen in the recommended list trials.

Keep up to date

We encourage you to stay tuned to our YouTube channel throughout the growing season, where we'll be providing regular updates. 

If you have any questions about this blog, or the video within, contact your Farm Trader today or call us on 01289 330022.

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