Maximising yield using seed rate and tillering potential

Understanding the agronomic characteristics of wheat varieties and how these can be managed more accurately on farm is key to realising potential yields, advises plant breeders Limagrain UK.

Work carried out by Limagrain supports this theory, says the breeders arable technical manager, Ron Granger. “We wanted to look at how seed rate and drilling date interact to affect the yield performance of a variety,” he explains.

Last autumn, Limagrain conducted a trial at Bishop Burton in Yorkshire, comparing the performance of a range of Limagrain wheat varieties. The trials were drilled at two drilling dates; early October and late October, and at three different seed rates; 200, 300 and 400 seeds/m², all in the same location.

“Limited data had suggested that LG Sundance was a high tillering variety and we needed additional data to support this, so we looked at how LG Sundance performed against Revelation specifically, as Revelation is a succesful variety that is well managed on farm.”

“What we found was that LG Sundance was higher yielding at lower seed rates, at both drilling dates. At 200 seeds/m², LG Sundance showed a significant increase of final tiller number over Revelation.”

“LG Sundance showed the best yield at 300 seeds/m² when drilled later, whereas for Revelation, the highest yields were obtained at the higher seed rate of 400 seeds/m².”

“This backs up the information we had already seen from trials and on farm, that Revelation performs better at higher seed rates.”

Mr Granger adds that for both varieties, the later sowing date showed an increase in yield potential over the early sowing date, and confirmed the advantages of increasing seed rates, once past mid-October.

“What this means on farm, is that LG Sundance is a high tillering variety and growers should consider lower seed rates if planting before mid-October,” he says.

“Even at later sowings, the variety shows high yield potential at lower seed rates, so growers should only increase seed rates significantly if weather and soil conditions are not favourable for good plant establishment.”

“Using high seed rates will have implications on standing power and specific weight if plant canopies are too thick, and this is an important consideration for crop management in very high tillering varieties such as LG Sundance.”

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.