There’s still a lot of merit in Merit

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Strong on its disease resistance to both Septoria tritici and yellow rust (often a major issue for growers in the Eastern counties), yielding as well as many of the leading Group 4 feed wheats in this year’s AHDB trials and with multiple end market options the recent resurgence of interest towards Group 3 wheat Merit comes as no surprise to Lincolnshire farmer Tim Booth of JM Booth and Sons.

Based in Swineshead, near Boston, and managing a total cropping area of 404ha – half of which is made up of winter wheat, Tim has been growing Group 3s for several years now and believes they offer growers more flexibility on end markets and – with the right variety, make it potentially easier for farmers to achieve the right milling specification.

Mr Booth says: “As a business we tend to concentrate on feed wheats, staying away from milling wheats and the complexities of meeting full milling specifications. However, I do grow Group 3 varieties if they yield consistently and are easy to manage. Merit, from breeder Elsoms Seeds, certainly ticks those key boxes and it’s the third time we’ve grown it, drilling 34.7ha on October 13th last year into a high grade 2 silt as a good first wheat entry following a crop of peas.

Established well

 “It established very well through the early Autumn, competing well against our main weed burden of black-grass and, with the assistance of a mild winter, it pushed on nicely into the Spring following 250kg/ha of nitrogen applied across 2 splits in early March and early April respectively.

Tim Booth

“Merit had no T0, and we went with a fairly standard fungicide program of Fluxapyroxad + Pyraclostrobin for Septoria and rust control at T1, along with a PGR of 0.75L/ha of Chlormequat. At T2 we applied Fenpicoxamid at 1.2L/ha – again for Septoria control and followed up with 0.4L/ha of Prothioconazole as an ear spray at T3.

 “Although we did have yellow rust pressure in our area this year, Merit has always been strong on its resistance to yellow rust and the crop remained very clean right through till harvest. We cut on July 31st and were rewarded with an average yield of 10.7t/ha at 13.6% moisture, ahead of our 2 previous achieved yields for the variety. The specific weight was an excellent 80kg/hl with a Hagberg falling number of 258 and Merit produced a nice bold grain with the overall quality in the shed looking extremely good. The milling specification for a Group 3 is 10.5-11% protein, so our achieved protein content of 11.5% for the crop was ahead of the curve.

 “For anyone looking for a consistently high yielding feed wheat, as well as an easy to grow and easy to manage Group 3 with the wider market opportunities out there in the distilling, export and biscuit sectors then Merit should make their decision an easy one” he concludes.


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