Grower returns to milling wheat with low fertiliser wants


Essex wheat grower Phil Cottis is renewing his curiosity within the often-forgotten milling selection Illustrious, because it seems to be to be an environment friendly consumer of nitrogen to supply high-protein grain and should assist save him some costly nitrogenous fertiliser.

A small 2.8ha space of the winter wheat selection produced a 14% protein grain pattern this summer season at a good yield of 9t/ha, barely forward of the farm’s common.

So he has drilled 65ha this autumn with an elevated seed charge to compensate for its shy tillering behavior.

See additionally: Essex wheat grower earns further premium by hitting 14% protein

He is rising 400ha of milling wheat utilizing all of the 4 primary varieties – Skyfall, Zyatt, Crusoe and Illustrious – with the overwhelming majority of his grain hitting breadmakers’ specification for 13% protein grain.

He is now trying to see if the latter selection may allow him reduce fertiliser prices.

“Illustrious seems to be to have good potential for us to cut back nitrogen because it exhibits good utilisation of nitrogen just like the outdated selection Hereward,” he tells Farmers Weekly.

Poor tillering

This season he has elevated his seed charge by practically 10%.

He will look to use the next first dose of nitrogen fertiliser early within the spring to beat its shy tillering behavior and tendency to lose tillers by means of the winter and early spring.

He farms, along with his son Richard, some 600ha of combinable crops on heavy clay soils at Lambourne Hall, Canewdon, simply north of Southend.

Two-thirds of the farm grows milling wheat and the opposite third break crops, equivalent to oilseed rape together with spring and winter beans.

The  Essex coast sees an annual rainfall of beneath 500mm, one of many driest areas of Britain and so it’s troublesome to supply huge yields of barn-filling Group 4 feed wheats.

This means the main focus is hitting milling premiums in milling-quality wheats and this summer season, in a harvest of typically low proteins, just about all of the wheat met the miller’s wants.

Phil has a six-year rotation of two wheats adopted by oilseed rape, a two additional wheats after which beans, with spring oats filling in as a break crop if there’s a drawback drilling rapeseed or beans.

Variety selection

Among his varieties, Crusoe does properly as a primary wheat, Zyatt as a second and Skyfall in each positions.

He was searching for a substitute for the outdated favorite Hereward, which had been grown on the farm for 30 years, however its yield was starting to falter and the final crop was harvested in 2021.

He had tried Illustrious 5 years in the past however its yield was not spectacular and so was dropped.

However, he was tempted to strive once more as Skyfall and Zyatt needed to be fed with a variety of nitrogen to supply excessive proteins, and with nitrogen fertiliser rocketing in worth, it was hoped Illustrious could possibly be grown with much less nitrogen.

Last season’s crop was drilled on 10 October following peas, with a three-way break up of ammonium nitrate totalling 264kg/ha, in 90-110-64 doses, after which a late liquid Profol 18% dose giving an additional 35kg/ha utilized on the ear tacky ripe stage.

That 2.8ha block produced the 9t/ha yield at 14% protein, a Hagberg of 354 and particular weight of 80.4kg/hl and was snapped up by a neighborhood miller.

The protein was increased than Skyfall and Zyatt, with solely a number of the former hitting 14% and Zyatt typically about 13%. Crusoe stood up properly and produced 14% grain.

field of emerging Illustrious milling wheat

© MAG/David Jones

Increased space

This season’s 65ha crop was drilled on 3-5 October following spring beans, after land preparation consisted of a mix of disc harrow, press, spraying off with glyphosate, then rolled and sown with a Horsch Avatar disc drill.

This autumn the seed charge was elevated to 202kg/ha in contrast with regular farm observe of 185-192kg/ha on some excessive moisture-retentive London clay soils and Mr Cottis says the crop regarded “improbable” in late October.

Next spring he’ll look to extend the early first nitrogen dose to 100kg/ha from 90kg/ha in late February, to encourage tillering and restrict tiller losses.

“We don’t wish to see the crop pressured, turning yellow and shedding tillers,” he says.

However, with the sharp rise in nitrogen fertiliser costs, he’s trying to reduce total nitrogen ranges throughout his wheat by 20kg/ha and hopes it won’t have an enormous impact on the grain protein.

Disease danger

On the illness entrance, rusts are usually an even bigger menace on the dry east coast than the moist weather-loving septoria, and he says yellow rust can are available in early within the season and brown rust is a menace in late May onwards.

He has a three-spray T1-T2-T3 fungicide strategy, with further T0s utilized relying on the season.

Illustrious might have a bonus over the opposite three milling varieties because it has no clear illness weaknesses in contrast with Skyfall and Zyatt. These are vulnerable to yellow rust, and Crusoe is weak on brown rust.

Chelmsford-based Marriage’s is without doubt one of the native millers to which Mr Cottis sells his wheat.

George Marriage, director of flour milling on the family-owned group, says Illustrious gave an excellent baking pattern when the variability first got here out and regarded as if it could possibly be a “new Hereward”.

“We had been very happy with the baking end result and hopefully the variability will get one other probability, as we had been upset when it didn’t take off,” he says.

Breeder’s view

Illustrious winter wheat tends to be a shy tillering selection which may additionally lose tillers simply.

Therefore it advantages from the next seed charge than regular and a barely increased dose of early nitrogen within the spring, says the variability’s breeder RAGT.

The selection is analogous in its tillering capability to the outdated breadmaking selection Solstice, and with this shy tillering capability it’s higher suited to land with some “physique” slightly than very gentle land the place tiller loss could possibly be an issue.

Illustrious is prone to take about 2% of the wheat seed market this autumn.

Lee Bennett, managing director of RAGT Seeds, says the variability will achieve from a barely elevated seed charge, and he suggests making use of 25 seeds/sq m greater than the standard farm charge.

In addition, he urged making use of a barely greater first dose of nitrogen early within the spring, in say February/March, of about 50-60kg/ha slightly than 40kg/ha.

However, the general nitrogen charge shouldn’t be elevated.

“The secret is to maximise the ear inhabitants by good tiller upkeep,” he says.

Solstice was final included within the AHDB Recommended List of 2016/17, the identical yr that Illustrious made its look on the checklist.

Illustrious got here on to the checklist helped by its claimed increased high quality of protein, however millers didn’t provide a premium over different milling varieties.

The selection has no clear weaknesses in its illness resistance profile, scoring an 8 for yellow rust, 6 for brown rust and 5.4 for its one-year septoria ranking.

Whereas Zyatt (4) and Skyfall (3) have weaknesses for yellow rust and Crusoe for brown rust (3), in a 1-9 scale the place 1 could be very vulnerable and 9 exhibits good resistance.