Growers wanting to get the best out of modern high yielding milling wheats should pay particular attention to application rates and timings in the next few weeks, says CF Fertilisers’ arable agronomist Allison Grundy
“Analysis of our latest round of trials is highlighting the importance of precise soil assessment, accurate yield prediction, correct application rates, timings and appropriate P, K and S levels,” she explains.
“Obviously, if you haven’t carried out a test such as CF N-Min by now it’s too late but there’s still time to think about your rates and timings.”
A good starting point is to be realistic about your yield potential, she advises.
“Modern varieties like Skyfall and Trinity have huge yield potential but there is no point targeting 12t/ha crops if the farm, field or soil structure is not really up to delivering this.
“Much of this will be driven by the rotation, but you must be honest about the land’s ability to produce a high yield.
“Whilst you don’t want to starve a good crop, if you put more Nitrogen on than the crop can realistically utilise, not only will it impact on margins it could also create environmental issues.
“The latest milling wheat varieties are hungry crops generally, but they all respond slightly differently to Nitrogen applications.”
Last year’s trials with Skyfall using SingleTop (27N (12SO3) showed that the more Nitrogen you put on, the more able it is to build yield whilst keeping proteins relatively stable, so the higher Nitrogen rates give the best margins.
“Generally speaking, if you want to get a 10.0t/ha crop at 13.0% protein then you have to feed it as if it is a 12.0t/ha crop.”
“It’s very likely that in many crops where proteins are less than expected, it is because plants are not reaching that point at which they start to produce quality.”
“When application rates of 300kg N/ha plus as indicated by some of the trials are used, it’s essential that this gets utilised by the plant as efficiently as possible.”
Trials have shown that four, maybe five, applications are more appropriate if a larger amount of Nitrogen is calculated to be applied as opposed to the more traditional three way split carried out on many farms, Allison Grundy points out.
“Applying more frequently means the crop will receive smaller amounts each time improving the recovery of Nitrogen by the crop.”
Adequate levels of P and K, particularly potash, are also essential to avoid growth checks and soil indices of around 2 need to be maintained to ensure optimum Nitrogen utilisation, she adds.
“Without this the plant will not be able to use the Nitrogen efficiently and both yield and quality are likely to suffer if these nutrients aren’t in balance.”
“Most wheat crops destined for premium markets are also likely to require additional Sulphur as levels in the air have decreased considerably in recent years.”