Drilling early this year?

Reduce risks by early drilling using Seedtech's Autumn Drilliing Plan

Despite the very difficult harvest we are having, the autumn drilling season is already upon us with some oilseed rape already drilled and seed houses beginning to dress cereal seed for early orders.

Seedtech surveyed over 120 tillage farmers in early July about their autumn 2020 crop intentions. Not surprisingly, tillage farmers want to drill more winter crops this autumn, especially barley, wheat and oilseed rape.

There was also a strong sense that these crops will be drilled earlier to help get work done. This is completely understandable after autumn 2019, but early drilling carries its own well-known risks such as higher incidences of take-all; barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV); disease; and weed pressure.

So, what can Seedtech do to help tillage farmers drill earlier but reduce the risks of early drilling?

Figure 1. % of growers surveyed (120 tillage farmers sampled) and their autumn 2020 cropping intentions

Autumn Crop Portfolio

To help tillage farmers, Seedtech has compiled its autumn crop portfolio into a one-page drilling guide with all the pertinent information such as suggested drilling dates, seeding rates and pack sizes.

Figure 2. Seedtech 2020 Autumn Drilling Plan

For more information on the Seedtech Autumn Drilling Plan, click here.

Winter Oilseed Rape – AQUILA

Starting with crop choice, oilseed rape has been the star performer of the 2020 harvest so far. Yields of over 2.0t/ac are common enough and then there are the added benefits to the following crops.

For more information on the Why Grow Winter Oilseed Rape factsheet, click here.

Drilling date did not affect crop performance in 2020 so there is still time to get crops established, but variety choice now comes into play and hybrid vigour is necessary to claw back the few days drilling lost.

AQUILA (hybrid rape) is the highest yielding oilseed rape variety on the Irish Department of Agriculture Recommended List 2020 and a firm favourite with Irish growers. Seed rates should be increased to 60 or 70 seeds/m² in September with the aim to have 30-40 plants/m² next spring.

Seedbed conditions are more important than drilling date per se, and drilling AQUILA on September 10 is a better long-term bet than drilling any barley on the same day, in my opinion.

For growers trying out the ‘next thing’, AURELIA was joint highest yielding variety in the Department of Agriculture Trials 2020 – an impressive 9% over controls.

It has excellent pods and stems and comes with turnip mosaic virus resistance making it an excellent choice to try this autumn.

Hybrid Winter Barley – BELFRY And BAZOOKA

More growers want to increase their area of winter barley than any other crop this autumn. BELFRY is the best choice of winter barley to grow, especially for early drilling or where take-all may be a concern.

BELFRY is the only variety to out-yield the controls in 21 out of 25 Department of Agriculture trials irrespective of season (2017-2020); location (Louth to Cork); rotation (first or continuous cereals); or drilling date (early or late).

This consistency is unique and an easy step to help reduce the risks of drilling winter barley this autumn.

BAZOOKA is the hybrid of choice on lighter soils as it has slightly taller straw.

Both BELFRY and BAZOOKA are drilled at 200 seeds/m² or a 500kg bag drills 5ha (12.5ac). A new piece of research that is very useful to know is the weed suppression effect BELFRY and BAZOOKA have on grass weeds such as sterile brome and the dreaded black-grass.

In these ADAS trials, BAZOOKA reduced the seed numbers of sterile brome by 70% (the same result can be expected from BELFRY) as can be seen from this picture taken from a BAZOOKA crop in 2019.

A simple grower’s guide on hybrid barley is available on: www.seedtech.ie 

Figure 3. Sterile brome is taller from competition from BAZOOKA (on left) and no competition (on right). Note: Reduced seed numbers when grown in BAZOOKA (on left).

2-Row Winter Barley – LG CASTING

Growers looking to grow a two-row barley in 2020 will not be able to pass up on LG CASTING.

This is the only two-row winter barley to yield over 100 in the Department of Agriculture Trials 2017-2020, some feat given the variances of those years.

LG CASTING has performed well on farm in 2020, pushing out some fantastic yields and delivering a super sample of grain.

Conventional Barley – KWS JOYAU And KWS KOSMOS

Where BYDV is a major concern, KWS JOYAU heralds a new era of BYDV management for Irish winter barley growers.

This is a conventional six-row winter barley that is tolerant of BYDV by limiting the multiplication of the virus within the plant.

This means that initial aphid infection occurs but there is little or no effect of BYDV on KWS JOYAU. In 2019 and 2020 Department of Agriculture trials, KWS JOYAU has performed very well with excellent grain quality and straw.

There are only very limited amounts of KWS JOYAU seed available in 2020 and seek an IASIS agronomist’s advice where it is being drilled early.

Another excellent winter barley is KWS KOSMOS which has done excellently on farm and in trials in 2020.

KWS KOSMOS is a six-row conventional that has huge yield potential and the best mildew rating of any barley on the recommended list (a point worthy of consideration as fenpropimorph e.g. Corbel is not registered anymore and early drilling increases mildew risk).

Winter Wheat – GRAHAM

GRAHAM winter wheat has gathered and maintained a lot of grower and advisor support since its introduction in 2017.

GRAHAM is the highest yielding wheat on the Department of Agriculture Recommended List 2020 and has the best overall disease package available.

It really impressed growers this year as it did not get yellow rust in the spring, maintained its green canopy when Septoria came into crops in July and has turned out some exceptional yields on farm.

An added benefit of GRAHAM is, it is a slow developer so it is suitable for reasonably early drilling.

Winter Oats – HUSKY

Another crop that performed very well on farm this year is winter oats. In Teagasc analysis of profits on tillage farms 2016-2018, winter oats generate €120/ha more profit than spring oats and it fits in nicely harvesting after barley and before wheat.

The undoubted best winter oat to grow is HUSKY, which has shown phenomenal consistency for yields, quality and straw over the past 10 years.

HUSKY is in demand by millers for porridge and equine markets where premiums can increase the margins generated by HUSKY comparable to that of winter wheat. An added benefit of HUSKY is that it is significantly earlier to harvest than any other oat, so it is often combined in July.

Hybrid Rye – KWS BONO

And now for something completely different as the TV programme used to say. Hybrid rye is a new crop to Ireland and has a lot to offer, not least that it can be sown from as early as September 15.

It is not affected by take-all or BYDV and really suits as the last cereal before a break crop, especially on lighter soils or where fertility is low.

KWS BONO is the variety of rye that has performed best in Seedtech trials over the past few years, especially for its standing ability.

KWS BONO is very suitable for grain and whole-cropping and any growers who have tried it over the past few years have either grown it again or increased their acreage.

We strongly recommend growers who might be thinking of trying some KWS BONO rye to secure a market before drilling.


For more information on the Seedtech Autumn Drilling Plan, just click here 

Furthermore, you can contact your local merchant. Tim O’Donovan will also answer any queries you may have at: info@seedtech.ie.

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