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Top of the crops revealed

Growers from across the UK gathered at this year’s YEN conference at Newark to discuss the agronomy behind some of last season’s highest yielding cereal and oilseed rape crops. Abby Kellett reports.



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In spite of dry spring conditions which threatened crop yields, harvest 2017 Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) entrants have showed what can be achieved when cereal and oilseed rape (OSR) crops are pushed to their limits.

 

This year’s YEN, organised by ADAS, saw a record number of participants, 55 of whom took part in the OSR competition – a new category for the 2016/17 season.

 

OSR yields averaged nearly five tonnes per hectare (2t/acre), while some of the top performing crops came close to the world record of 6.7t/ha (2.7t/acre).

 

The OSR crop which produced the highest yield and achieved the greatest percentage of its potential yield was a crop of SY Harnas grown by Wiltshire grower, Martin Smart. Having received four applications of N totalling 280kg/ha, it yielded 6.4t/ha (2.59t/acre) and achieved 72 per cent of its potential yield.

 

In the trials sector, Michael Farr won the highest overall yield category, producing a 5.8t/ha crop (2.35t/acre) at the DSV trial site in Oxfordshire. He also won best potential yield, achieving 48 per cent of the crop’s 12t/ha (4.85/acre) potential.

 

While OSR crop yields were generally high this year, Dr Pete Berry, head of crop physiology at ADAS, said they could have been even better.

 

“Good establishment with a dry autumn and winter followed by a bright spring allowed crops to set a large potential yield with lots of seeds per sq.m.

 

“Unfortunately, a warm May and early summer which was not particularly sunny meant this high yield potential was not fully realised. Oilseed rape harvest was a couple of weeks earlier than normal due to the warm conditions which reduced time for filling the seeds,” said Dr Berry.

 

Despite a dry grain filling period, the average YEN cereal yield was 11t/ha (4.5t/acre), with winter wheat the most common entry. According to Prof Roger Sylvester-Bradley, head of crop performance at ADAS, nearly all the entrants exceeded the average national wheat yield of 8.5t/ha (3.4t/acre).

 

No stranger to high yielding crops, Tim Lamyman, an OSR yield record holder from the Lincolnshire Wolds, topped the cereal yields competition with a 15.3t/ha (6.2t/acre) wheat crop. However, he said if it had not been for the unfavourable weather during late spring and early summer, the yield could have been even bigger.

 

He said: “The biggest killer was the dry period which reduced our tiller numbers. At grain fill we had a lot of rain and a lack of sunlight which stopped us getting the record-breaking yields, but I was happy with the biomass and the grain set, which is probably where we scored the points.”

YEN winners

Cereals


Best Field Yield t/ha

  • GOLD: Tim Lamyman, of Lincolnshire, sponsored by Hutchinsons - 15.3
  • SILVER: Donald Ross, of Ross-shire, sponsored by AHDB - 14.8
  • BRONZE: Edward Vipond, of Suffolk, sponsored by BASF - 14.6


Best % of Potential Yield – fields % of t/ha

  • GOLD: Donald Ross of Ross-shire sponsored by AHDB 83% of 17.8
  • SILVER: Neil Armstrong, of Northumberland, sponsored by Syngenta 76% of 17.4
  • BRONZE: Tim Lamyman, of Lincolnshire, sponsored by Hutchinsons 72% of 21.1


Best Plot Yield t/ha

  • GOLD: Jonathan Helliwell, at Bayer, Oxfordshire - 15.7
  • SILVER: Bob Bulmer, at Hutchinsons, Shropshire - 14.9
  • BRONZE: Mark Doble at BASF, Somerset - 12.8


Best % of Potential Yield – plots % of t/ha

  • GOLD: Jonathan Helliwell at Bayer, Oxfordshire 74% of 21.1
  • SILVER: Bob Bulmer at Hutchinsons, Shropshire 69% of 21.5
  • BRONZE: Mark Doble at BASF, Somerset 60% of 21.4


Oilseeds


Best Field Yield t/ha

  • GOLD: Martin Smart of Wiltshire, sponsored by CF Fertiliser - 6.4
  • SILVER: Stephen Tuer of North Yorkshire, independent entry - 6.3
  • BRONZE: Tim Lamyman of Lincolnshire, sponsored by Hutchinsons - 5.7


Best % of Potential Yield – fields % of t/ha

  • GOLD: Martin Smart of Wiltshire, sponsored CF Fertilisers 72% of 9.0
  • SILVER: Stephen Tuer of North Yorkshire, independent entry 49% of 12.8
  • BRONZE: James Price of Oxfordshire, sponsored by Yara 48% of 7.9

 

Best Plot Yield t/ha

  • GOLD: Michael Farr at DSV, Oxfordshire - 5.8


Best % of Potential Yield – plots % of t/ha

  • GOLD: Michael Farr at DSV, Oxfordshire 48% of 12.0
Donald Ross

Donald Ross, Ross-shire, broke the YEN record for achieving the best percentage of potential yield, with a 14.77t/ha (5.97t/acre) crop of KWS Viscount wheat, at a calculated 83 per cent of its 17.8t/ha (7.2t/acre) yield potential.

 

He said his commitment to improving soil health by regularly applying cattle manure and pig slurry was partly responsible for his victory, along with a little bit of luck.

 

In the cereal trials category, the best yield and best percentage of potential yield went to Jonathan Helliwell of Bayer for a 15.7t/ha (6.35t/acre) crop of LG Sundance. It was drilled on October 5 at one of Bayer’s Oxfordshire trial sites and achieved 74 per cent of its potential.

Innovation awards

Innovation Awards (entrants recommended for their bright ideas) went to:

 

  • Andrew Hunt, Gt Melton Farms, Norfolk
    ... for developing a high performance hybrid-rye growing system for light land

 

  • Martin Smart, Ashton Hill Farm, Wiltshire
    ... for using farm trials to develop oilseed rape growing systems

 

  • Toby Hogsbjerg, Swinbrook Farms, on the Cotswolds
    ... for developing a low impact production system for oilseed rape on shallow soils

 

  • Brian Barker, Lodge Farm, Suffolk
    ... for trail-blazing the use of crop monitoring in his wheat management system.
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