Mr Ward has increased the amount of Evolution grown, mostly as a second wheat, from 20ha (50 acres) last season to 100ha (250 acres) for the 2015 harvest and believes the variety’s tallness (88cm without PGR on the HGCA Recommended List) helps outcompete black-grass.
“It’s been a smashing variety,” he says. “Other varieties, such as Reflection, offer a slightly higher yield, but they’re too short for us and will not smother the black-grass as well. We’d probably lose more yield from the extra black-grass competition than we would gain from the variety’s extra yield potential.”
“Good septoria and rust resistance is another major draw of Evolution and makes it ideally suited to the second wheat situation, with Horatio reserved for the first wheat slot”, Mr Ward continues.
“We did see a bit of septoria come in early on, but that was easily cleaned up with chlorothalonil at T0. Evolution has a better disease profile than Horatio, so is better placed as a second wheat and seems to do well for us in that position.”
“The variety’s disease profile has afforded some savings to fungicide programmes, with lower doses used on the Evolution due to rusts not being a problem”, he says. This season’s programme is similar to 2014 (see box below).
“The only issue we have found is that Evolution can be slightly later maturing, but that’s not a problem for us, as we have a neighbour’s milling wheat that needs to be harvested first anyway. In theory, the longer the crop stays green the higher the yield should be.”
Last year’s Evolution yielded 12-14t/ha, which was above the farm’s five-year average of 9t/ha.
Mr Ward says a range of difficult soil types across the farm means early drilling is essential.
“We normally start drilling around 14 September and want to get first wheats in by the end of the month, with all remaining wheat drilled by 10 October at the latest. Beyond that makes it hard to get a decent crop of wheat on this soil.”
Land with the worst black-grass is normally ploughed before drilling with a Kverneland combination drill, while less affected land gets a pass with the Sumo Trio ahead of drilling.
A small area of Mulika spring wheat (sown in the autumn if possible), is also grown on the farm to help with black-grass control and Mr Ward says hybrid barley offers good potential for black-grass control at a lower cost than wheat.
Looking ahead to next season, Mr Ward says he is very tempted to drop Horatio in favour of growing Evolution as both a first and second wheat, using hybrid barley or Mulika (drilled later) on the very worst black-grass fields immediately after ploughing.
Evolution fungicide strategy (2014)
- T0: 1 litre/ha Alto Elite (cyproconazole +chlorothalonil) and 0.75 litre/ha Cycocel (chlormequat) PGR
- T1: 1 litre/ha Treoris (chlorothalonil + penthiopyrad), 0.66 litre/ha Rubric (epoxiconazole), 1 litre/ha Rover (chlorothalonil) and 1.5 litre/ha Cycocel
- T2: 1 litre/ha Pexan (epoxiconazole + fluxapyroxad), 1 litre/ha Gemstone (pyraclostrobin + epoxiconazole), 1 litre/ha Rover
- T3: 0.35 litre/ha Proline (prothioconazole), 0.35 litre/ha tebuconazole, 0.4 litre/ha Tucana (pyraclostrobin), Rover 1 litre/ha
Evolution bred by Sejet and marketed in the UK by Limagrain, was recommended in 2014 as the highest yielding Group 4 hard wheat that also offered a robust disease resistance profile.
These traits were demonstrated fully last season where Evolution performed very well both on farm and in trials.
“Evolution has very good disease ratings for yellow and brown rust on the HGCA’s Recommended List which were upheld this season, and the variety also has decent defence against the other key diseases of septoria, eyespot and mildew,” says Ron Granger, arable technical manager with Limagrain.
“This strong disease resistance gives growers flexibility to adapt their fungicide programmes on farm.”
“It can perform well as a second-wheat, and as with many new high-yielding types, Evolution is later to mature which can be used to spread work, so is a feature rather than a problem,” says Mr Granger.