With the barley and oilseed rape harvest progressing steadily, thoughts turn to winter wheat and no one is more anxious to see how the wheat crops will perform than the seed team at Wynnstay, writes Richard Torr.
With the unprecedented levels of Fusarium in wheat and the complete lack of sunshine during the critical grain fill period, it is difficult to know what to expect in yield and quality.
We have reduced our yield expectations for seed crops as you would expect but from our investigations so far, it is clear that the yields are going to vary dramatically.
Examining ears of wheat in the field gives us a good idea what to expect but the picture is not good with many wheat crops looking good from the gate with high ear population, but the wheat in the ear is often very poor quality.
Screening losses will be high in wheat, just as we have seen in the winter barley seed processed so far. It seems that winter barley has yielded OK with most crops coming in between 2.5t–3t/acre, so it is not a record breaker but a reasonably consistent picture.
Seed supplies for barley are therefore tight with some of the best varieties, like KWS Cassia, getting close to being sold out.
The new variety Matros is having an excellent year in trials so far, out-yielding all the popular feed barleys so will offer a useful alternative to Cassia.
Oilseed rape seed supplies should be okay. We are seeing one or two new varieties sell out but much of the seed sold in the UK is either imported from the continent or held over from the previous harvest, so this year’s slightly disappointing yields should not result in too many seed supply issues.
Oat seed supplies are very limited as has been the case for the last few years. We lost several of our oat seed crops early in the season and the whole seed trade seems short of oats so we are already down to just one variety left.
However, it is the wheat crop that gives us the most cause for concern. Several of the popular wheat varieties are sold out across the UK and we urge growers to be flexible in their variety choice. If yields are better than anticipated we hope to have more seed available of these varieties later on, but like all farmers locally we are desperate to see how the wheats will perform.
Richard Torr is Seed Sales Manager for Wynnstay Group plc.