RGT Bairstow – a top performer in the late-drilling slot
Wet weather has delayed many winter wheat sowing programmes across the country as sodden fields keep drills in the shed.
However, on better-draining soils that could carry machinery in late autumn and into winter if the rain stops, there may well still be time to establish decent wheat crops.
Variety choice will be critical to get the best results in these less forgiving months; wheats with a faster growth habit that exhibit plenty of resilience and vigour will get up and away in the best possible shape.
All 39 varieties on the Recommended List are deemed safe to sow until the end of January without significant yield penalties, but this does not mean they are equal to the task.
Late-drilling trials give a clearer picture of which varieties to use and which are best left in the bag until next autumn.
RGT Bairstow was the highest yielding soft wheat with UK-wide recommendation in the AHDB’s 2018-22 report on wheats sown after 1 November, as reflected in the 2023/24 Recommended List. It is also worth noting that RGT Bairstow also matches or beats all hard Group 4s on the RL bar one.
In the AHDB’s latest 2023 results, conducted on two heavy-land sites in the east of England drilled on 2 December and 27 January, it again outperformed all other soft wheats with UK-wide recommendation.
RGT Bairstow also put in an impressive performance in RAGT’s internal trials, which were sown on 14 November 2022 on lighter land in Cambridgeshire. It was the highest yielding soft wheat and matched Gleam, a proven hard wheat option for late drilling, and was well ahead of Champion.
Jack Holgate, RAGT’s arable product manager, says: “RGT Bairstow has a very flexible sowing window from end of September to the end of February, and is ideally suited for sowing in November and December.
“It also has a latest safe sowing date of end of February on the RL, but we back it until the end of the first week of March, so growers who can’t get back on the land until the new year can choose it with confidence, knowing they have plenty of room for manoeuvre.”
“If the weather does dry up at the turn of year there may well be a relatively healthy market for RGT Bairstow,” says Rodger Shirreff, Agrii’s national seed business manager.
With most fields currently “only fit for rice”, he suggests growers draw a line under their drilling programmes and reconsider their options once fields start to dry out.
“It has turned very wet everywhere, but if conditions are good enough in January and a grower wants to put a winter wheat in, Bairstow would not be a bad choice,” he says.
“We have sold quite a bit in Scotland for potential distilling, drilled in the first half of October usually after later-lifted crops of potatoes to make best use of its late-sowing potential.
“But it also performs very well further south, typically following sugar beet, where it can drill right through to the end of January – it doesn’t require a lot of vernalisation.
“Bairstow would be as good a choice as any at that time for growers looking for a soft wheat with potential for a premium.”
The variety is an aggressive tillerer so puts on biomass quickly, helping to make it a dependable late-sown choice. It is also very consistent whether grown as a first or second wheat, on light or heavy soils.
“It is a good yielder,” says Rodger. “It does need a robust PGR programme, but that’s just good risk management.
“Its disease scores are reasonably good. It is rated 7.5 against yellow rust, which is a good selling point for any wheat. It scores 6 for Septoria, so there is no problem with it going into the west, and it is resistant to orange what blossom midge.
“Thanks to its vigorous growth, Bairstow has been very competitive against grassweeds in our blackgrass trials at Stow Longa, which could be very useful later in the late-drilled slot.”
Late-sowing success – Find out how Norfolk grower Ken Goodger got on with his late-drilled RGT Bairstow at https://ragt.uk/rgt-bairstow-doing-well-in-every-situation/
RGT Bairstow – key points
- Flexible drilling window
- Consistent performer
• Good disease profile
• Good second wheat performance
- Approved for distilling
- Highest yielding soft wheat with UK-wide recommendation