Drilling for success and making varieties work harder for you

As the 2021 autumn drilling season kicks off in earnest this week, growers and agronomists are finalising drilling plans.

According to www.cso.ie, there were 400,000 tonnes fewer cereals produced in 2020 compared to 2019. This was due to a lack of drilling opportunities owing to challenging weather in autumn 2019 and concerns about early drilling on BYDV and Take-all.  These 400,000 tonnes equate to €60-€80 million, lost revenue for the whole tillage industry, which is significant. 

To help ensure growers have the best information available to them, Seedtech has devised an Autumn Drilling Plan showing the drilling window of varieties, along with suggested seeding rates to ensure optimum plant establishment during the sowing period.

Click to download

Mildew risk reduced with LG CASTING

Disease risk can become important when choosing a two-row barley, as winter barley is often drilled into barley stubbles. The over season risk of disease increases as the drilling date is brought forward. 

Looking at disease tolerance, LG CASTING is the most resistant variety available to mildew.  This early season disease often reduces tiller survival when spraying is not an option, so having a clean variety is an added benefit.

For earlier or later drilling, consistency of yield is not something growers need to worry about with LG CASTING.

LG Casting proves its consistency of yield over 4 very different seasons, compared to the other two-rows tested, as you can see in the chart.

Take-all situations alleviated by drilling BELFRY or BAZOOKA

Winter barley is often drilled into Take-all slots, as winter barley forms its yield early enough in the spring, that Take-all will not impact on yield. 

Early drilling increases Take-all risk due to two critical aspects of Take-all biology. Firstly, the activity of Take-all fungus declines with time after harvest and secondly when soil temperatures are below 10-12 deg C , so delayed drilling is a very good tool at reducing Take all.  However, this is impractical to do in all situations due to workload pressures. 

A quick look at the Dept of Agriculture (DAFM) trials clearly shows that BELFRY and BAZOOKA hybrid barley are relatively higher yielding in this ‘grave-yard’ slot than 2-row options.  A point to note here is the DAFM trials do not use Latitude on seed, so any benefit is from the variety, specifically, from the aggressive rooting in BELFRY and BAZOOKA. 

“There is a significant saving per acre drilled for growers who choose to apply Latitude onto hybrids, as a tonne of hybrid seed drills 25 acres whereas a tonne of 2-row seed drills 15 acres.” 

So, drilling a hybrid (with or without Latitude) is clearly the best option where winter barley is being drilled into take-all slots.

Picture: Take-all affecting cereal roots

BYDV risk reduced by drilling KWS JOYAU

KWS JOYAU (BYDV tolerant barley) is the first such barley to achieve a listing on the DAFM Rec List 2022.

KWS JOYAU can be drilled early in the season, where BYDV pressure is expected to be high.  This is usually best known by the grower and agronomist, based on previous experience.  Generally, aphids are more active in warmer temperatures, so early drilling is riskier.  KWS JOYAU is still able to yield in the presence of BYDV, but it may show some yellowing, as was seen in May 2021. 

Another slot where KWS JOYAU is especially suited is land that needs to be drilled early and is likely not to be sprayed in late winter.  Unlike aphid seed dressings like Redigo Deter, which protected the crops from aphids for up to 8 weeks, KWS JOYAU gives protection for the whole season.

Picture: Aphids are not a worry when JOYAU is drilled

GRAHAM Winter Wheat suits early drilling

Depending on your location, earlier drilling can be from mid-September to Mid-October and anything in between.  However, irrespective of the date, an earlier drilled wheat variety choice requires relatively slow autumn and early spring growth, reasonable disease resistance and good straw. 

GRAHAM is the most complete wheat available for drilling in Ireland in 2021.

Graham is quite slow to grow in the autumn, and early spring, so it is not going to race ahead and reach growth stage 30 and cause headaches.  Graham has a robust Septoria and Yellow Rust resistance, which reduces the risk of these diseases when it is drilled early. 

Previously, Septoria was the main threat, but Yellow Rust has become more problematic in the last few years, and GRAHAM is an excellent choice in this slot.   So, while earlier drilled wheat brings its own risks, it also carries benefits, especially in heavier land, and GRAHAM is an excellent choice for this slot.


HUSKY Oats for ultra-flexibility when drilling

Teagasc Profit Monitor analysis (2016-2018) threw up some very interesting, anonymised data from Irish tillage farmers.

Some gems have come out from this, and one I particularly like is the difference in profit between winter and spring oats which is €120/ha. 

This is a significant profit increase and added to the fact that winter oats harvest before the main crops of winter wheat and spring barley, is a bonus. 

HUSKY is now firmly the most popular oat to grow in Ireland.  It is very suitable to grow as a winter or a spring oat, and that sort of flexibility makes it a much simpler decision when ordering seed.  As a winter oat, it consistently performs in the DAFM trials and on farm, with many HUSKY growers saying it is the most profitable crop on farm. 

In terms of risk reduction, HUSKY has been tested in cold years and proven itself to be able to survive cold winters.  Late frost damage in winter oats in 2021 was reported in the farming media and was evident in Seedtech trials but was not apparent in HUSKY (see pictures). 

Late season frost damage is most likely in earlier drilled crops of winter oats. This is because the winter oat crop develops quicker in springtime, so it can be at a susceptible stage when frosts occur.

Choosing a variety like HUSKY when drilling winter oats reduces this risk of late season frosts.

Picture:  HUSKY RHS showing no effect of a late spring frost in Seedtech winter oat trials 2021.  Competitor oat on the left showing stunting and increased shoot formation from late frosts.


Written by Tim O’Donovan, Technical Director at Seedtech.

If you have any questions for Tim on your drilling plans, please email info@seedtech.ie or visit https://seedtech.ie/en/agronomy/autumn_spring_tillage_guide for more information.

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