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East Anglia: Second wheat remains firm fixture in region’s rotations, survey finds

16:00 13 July 2014

A second wheat crop

A second wheat crop

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Second wheat looks like remaining a firm fixture in most East Anglian rotations despite the impending three crop rule being brought in as part of Common Agricultural Policy reform measures, escalating grass weed problems and weaker crop markets, according to the latest National Second Wheat Management study.

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Susan Mintern of MonsantoSusan Mintern of Monsanto

A telephone survey of more than 100 East Anglian and East Midlands farmers, commissioned by seeds and agrochemical firm Monsanto this spring, revealed that 85% are intending to plant second wheat this autumn.

This is slightly down on the 87% with the crop currently in the ground but markedly up on the 80% growing it in the difficult 2012/13 season. There appears to be no significant change in the area of the crop being planned.

The majority of growers saw the three crop rule as having very little impact on their cropping plans, and they are continuing to focus on doing everything possible to maximise second wheat performance.

“The fact that 50% of growers now see a yield gap of less than 1 tonne/ha between their first and second wheats – against less than 40% in our 2009 study – suggests management improvements have being paying dividends,” said study co-ordinator, Susan Mintern of Monsanto Crop Protection.

“Indeed, more than a quarter are recording yield gaps of less than 0.5 tonne/ha these days compared to just 8% five years ago. And almost 10% find the performance of their second wheats is now on a par with their first wheats.”

Concerns over grass weed – especially blackgrass – control have escalated in recent years so that it now ranks alongside take-all among the top three challenges facing East Anglia second wheat growers, with foliar disease control remaining very much in third place.

Selecting good second wheat varieties, using a take-all seed treatment and preparing better seedbeds were the key management techniques being employed to address these challenges, with applying earlier spring nitrogen and delaying drilling also practised by 70% or more.

“The same five second wheat management priorities were identified by growers in our previous 2009 and 2011 studies,” said Susan.

The 2014 study reveals take-all seed treatment has become standard for more than two thirds of East Anglian growers, with the vast majority treating all their seed.

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