BELGRADE Winter Wheat

(SJ-NA x Hereford)

"Blackgrass is now a major issue across the UK. Its spread has been exacerbated by the dominance of autumn sown crops and a high frequency of herbicide resistance is compromising effective treatment. Delaying the sowing of autumn wheat and/or switching to a spring sown variety are both potential strategies where grass weed pressure is high. Indeed, a recent report into the effectiveness of these approaches concluded that delaying the sowing of winter wheat by three weeks, to early/mid October reduced blackgrass infestations by around 33%. Delayed sowing allows more weeds to be sprayed off before planting and increases the effectiveness of residual pre-emergence herbicides within the soil. Furthermore, blackgrass emerging into later sown wheat appears to be substantially less competitive with the crop. Delaying sowing further – to late October and beyond – resulted in little incremental gain. However, spring sowing has also been shown to be benefi cial, giving a substantial (92%) reduction in blackgrass plants emerging and lower seed production per plant. Such trials indicate that a reversal of the trend to increasingly early drilling may be vital in the fi ght against blackgrass. They also suggest that spring cropping may have a role to play though it can be a diffi cult choice for the heavy soils that favour blackgrass. This serves to stimulate interest in varieties with characteristics that fi t into these changing rotational requirements, which can be particularly difficult for farmers operating a tighter oilseed rape/winter wheat rotation. When choosing a late sown wheat, early maturation is a distinct advantage and varieties such as BELGRADE can be of considerable interest, particularly when wishing to follow with oilseed rape. BELGRADE combines later drilling with early maturity and can buy
an extra seven to ten days for stubble preparation and/or an earlier oilseed rape sow. This can help with both fl ea beetle and the ongoing growth of blackgrass which tends to fare less well under a vigorous oilseed rape canopy. BELGRADE can be sown as a fi rst wheat in late September/early October but performs equally well when sown well into autumn and/ or as a second wheat and offers an excellent yield – 104 (treated), across a range of sites – compared with other established competitors on the RL. In our later drilled trials it outperformed other high yielding varieties and had reached maturity sooner. It also has good Septoria resistance, which is of particular interest when comparing to other varieties that suit later drilling." By Chris Piggott


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