Successful debut for RGT Grouse in Norfolk

Publish on August 30, 2023
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Norfolk grower Will More believes BYDV-resistant wheat varieties could play an important role at Manor Farm, Tunstall near Great Yarmouth in the future, following an impressive debut from his seed crop of RGT Grouse last season.

Will grows about 145ha of wheat, 35ha for seed. This included a 5.5ha block of pre-basic RGT Grouse, which was drilled at 165kg/ha in early October into medium sandy loam soils after a double break of sugar beet and vining peas. The crop got away well, and never looked back.

“We applied 200kg/ha of nitrogen, being behind peas and working on a 9.5t/ha yield,” says Will. “We tend to be conservative, but despite that we ended up with a phenomenal crop.”

Although the farm sits in a relatively high-risk Septoria area there were no particular concerns with disease. “We use a pretty robust fungicide programme from T0-T3 across the board, and we did a couple of technical tweaks compared with some of our stronger varieties.

‘We also carried out some fairly robust growth regulation as well. The Grouse was behind peas so had that initial nitrogen boost. But the variety has very good lodging resistance and, although apparently is a high-tillering type, it never looked overly thick. All in all it held up pretty well.”

Will is awaiting quality results, but he reports the grain as being bold and generally even, despite a few days’ delay before combining.

“We like to cut our seed crops as dry as we can as it is a very slow process putting it through the drier and means a person is tied up. Combine technology has moved on and we have better capacity, which helps with this approach. We started cutting the Grouse at just under 15%, and ended up at 14.2%.”

The 5.5ha block yielded just under 60t, or about 10.7t/ha. “That was pretty good – we had yields ranging from 8.75-12t/ha, so it was in the upper echelons,” says Will.

“I’ve offered to grow Grouse again on the same block, so it will be interesting to compare its performance as a second wheat.

“RGT Grouse is an exciting variety that could sit well in a good, variety-diversified wheat crop within a business, but should perhaps not be looked on as a panacea.

“First and foremost we’re growing it because RAGT wants us to. But not having to worry about spraying in the autumn is also a consideration. When it comes to insecticides we are discretionary –if we can avoid them, we will, but we will spray in a high-pressure situation. If we can remove the need to run a sprayer in wet conditions in late autumn there would be a benefit there. And there is the potential to obtain a £45/ha payment under SFI for growing insecticide-free wheat.”

With those advantages in mind, Will may incorporate a proportion of RGT Grouse into the farm’s commercial area in the future, and will be keeping a close eye on new, even better varieties coming through the pipeline.

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