12th September 2022

Optimise late drilling

Where drilling has been delayed for either black-grass management, a second wheat situation or for those who are drilling wheat after sugar beet or potatoes, it’s critical to consider which varieties suit this late drilling slot, considered to be from mid-October onwards.

“Get it wrong and you could be facing fairly substantial yield penalties, and this is totally avoidable,” says Limagrain UK’s, arable technical manager, Ron Granger.Late Drilling Evolution NEWS

“Late drilling presents a unique set of challenges to the crop; soils will inevitably become cooler and wetter as winter draws in, so it is important to proceed with care and consideration in order to get the crop well established.”

“Crops will not have been in the ground as long as those drilled earlier on so once growing conditions are favourable in the spring, it’s important that the variety is quick off the blocks.”

“Translated into varietal characteristics this means that late drilled wheats need to be strong tillering, with a semi prostrate growth habit in the winter and have a faster plant development in the spring.”

“With regards to second wheats, the added pressure from high-levels of take-all inoculum about this season, mean it is even more important to choose a wheat that is suitable for this slot”

The latest AHDB harvest results continue to demonstrate Evolution’s suitability for the second wheat situation. Over 5 very different sites, Evolution stands out with an average yield of 103.4% over control, 2.2% over other suitable second wheat varieties such as KWS Santiago and 2.6% over JB Diego.

Late Drilling Graph 1 NEWS


Colin Lloyd, head of agronomy with Agrii adds that as well as fast spring development, a later drilling variety should have good weed competitiveness for early vigour.” In our blackgrass variety trials at Stow Longa, we look at varieties in the later drilled slot of mid-Oct onwards, and measure for all of these characteristics before recommending that variety is suitable for the late drilling window, and we have found Evolution to be decently competitive with black-grass.”

Limagrain trials also show that even when drilled as late as November, Evolution still gives better yields than alternative or spring varieties. However Mr Granger recognises that once you get into mid-February sowing dates, spring wheats would be the preferred option.

Late Drilling Graph 2 NEWS


However he points out that one of the single most important factors in getting a late drilled crop off to a good start is to increase the seed rate. “This is really important as the crop is at higher risk from poorer conditions and pests – so the seed rate needs to reflect this.”

“For Evolution, we would recommend a rate of 325-375 seeds/ m² for mid – late October drilling in the south, increasing this slightly in the north to 350-400 seeds/m².  For crops being drilled November onwards the rate should reflect the more challenging conditions again, so 375-450seeds/m².”

“Effective seed treatments for either root disease or effective slug and insect control should be considered as a valuable tool for good establishment, especially in known situations of high risk.”

“Soils are still relatively warm, so establishment at the moment should be good which is important.”

He notes that later drilled varieties often have the advantage of requiring lower inputs, and may not for example, require an earlier autumn herbicide. Varieties such as Evolution have robust disease resistances that help to combat and withstand early spring disease challenges.

“Evolution is proving to be a robust variety for on farm performance over seasons, regions and soil type and its added versatility for later drilling situations in either a second wheat or blackgrass situation are important attributes that should not be over looked.”

An up-to-date technical agronomy guide to support Evolution, which is worth 2 BASIS points, is available to download here:

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