Given the difficult conditions last autumn, many growers will be looking to drill as soon as possible this year. At a joint press briefing at the Cereals event, breeders Limagrain in conjunction with Agrii, provided some essential early drilling advice for this season.
Agrii R&D project manager, James Southgate, outlined the potential benefits of early drilling crops such as increasing yield potential, improving establishment, reducing seed rates and knowing that there was a crop in the ground should weather conditions break as they did last year.
However Mr Southgate also highlighted the risks involved with early drilling such as increased BYDV threat, increased disease and lodging as well as an adverse effect on black-grass control.
Key to the success of early drilling was choosing the right variety he said. â In Agrii trials, it was clear that some varieties were better suited to the early slot than others such as Horatio and JB Diego, with a 1.3t/ha difference between them and a variety such as Santiago which is not as well suited. Early drilling really pulls out the differences between varieties.â
Ed Flatman, senior wheat breeder with Limagrain pointed out that not all varieties are suitable for early drilling, and not to drill any variety early just because you have it in the store. âThe message for this season is that it is important to sow the right varieties at the right time.â
Understanding plant development is key to selecting the correct varieties for early drilling continued Mr Flatman.â Growth habit should be high married against a slow to medium apical development. If apical development is too advanced in the spring it can result in damage from late frosts, so you want a variety that has slow spring apical development in phase with stem extension.|â
âClaire is the ideal variety for early drilling with a 7 for growth habit (9 being prostrate), slow spring apical development and high tillering ability. More recently recommended varieties such as Revelation and Horatio both have a 7 for growth habit balanced with medium to slow apical development, making them ideal for the early drilling slot.â
âBoth varieties also have good robust disease resistance ratings and stiff straw so this helps to combat the extra disease pressure that comes with early drilling.â
Appropriate agronomy for early drilled crops is critical to getting the extra yield continued Mr Southgate. âOur trials conducted in Essex showed that higher seed rates (200-250seeds/m2) produced higher yields than lower seed rates (100-150-seeds/m), although seed rates will vary depending on geography and environmental conditions. Using an adequate seed treatment, such as Deter or fluquinconazole, is also important.â
âThe black-grass factor is of course critical to consider when drilling early, its worth balancing up the pros and cons as delayed drilling can reduce black-grass by as much as 50%, so choose your fields carefully. Early drilling on bad black-grass fields should not be considered.â