01 February 2024, UK: Challenging winter conditions have meant significant areas of the planned winter crop have not yet been planted. In many circumstances, this will result in a shift away from true winter varieties and into spring cropping. However, spring seed availability remains very tight and many are still considering winter wheat as a viable option.
True winter wheat varieties have a vernalisation requirement which ultimately means they need to be exposed to cold temperatures for long enough to induce the flowering or reproductive phase. The risk with very late planting is that the conditions turn mild, and the winter wheat plants do not become reproductive which will essentially leave you with significantly reduced or no fertile ears in the crop.
Different varieties have different requirements for vernalisation – those with lower requirements will have a later safe sowing date as they need less cold exposure to form an ear.
All except 10 varieties on the current Recommended List will have surpassed their latest safe sowing date by the start of February.
GLEAM has a latest safe sowing date of the middle of February and has demonstrated strong performance in late drilled trials across several seasons.
We know GLEAM is a strong tillering variety with an inherently high TGW which helps it deliver in more marginal situations.
It is not all bad news. Very late drilled wheat is highly likely to be easier to manage from a grass weed, BYDV, Septoria and lodging perspective and can still be a profitable option. As soils start to warm up, late drilled crops could get off to an excellent start.
- Check the Recommended List for latest safe sowing date guidance and select a variety with a lower vernalisation requirement such as GLEAM
- Increase seed rates as appropriate to help compensate for reduced tillering capacity of plants
- Only attempt to drill if field conditions provide an opportunity to establish a good and even crop
- Be aware that all crops sown from the 1st February are classified as ‘spring crops’ by CRD which can impact crop protection choices
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