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What will wheat do?

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13 February 2020

Professor Peter Kettlewell and Dr Martin Hare have written a piece that’s featured in the Agronomist & Arable Farmer where they look at the threat of a dry spring following a wet autumn winter on late-sown wheats.

Rainfall in autumn 2019 was well above average, although not to the levels seen in autumn 2000. In the article, the two academics state that: “The total for September, October and November 2019 rainfall was 412 mm. But this national value hides remarkable regional differences. Parts of Cambridgeshire, Essex and Suffolk had about average rainfall, whilst Yorkshire and Lincolnshire suffered with nearly twice average rainfall.”

The cropping options available to farmers, depending on their soils is also touched upon. They highlight that from the many fields that have been left unsown, “on lighter soils, drier weather in February may allow winter wheat seed to be sown very late, but only for varieties with an end February latest safe sowing date, such as Skyfall or Leeds. If the rain continues, and especially on heavier soils, spring cropping will be the only solution.”

The country could potentially be faced with a dry spring following this wet autumn and winter; just like what was seen in 2000. The article looks into the issues farmers could face if this was to occur; including the problems that will be faced by late-sown wheat due to having shorter roots.

Towards the end of the article, the academics summarise the work Harper Adams University has looked into drought, irrigation and waterproofers on wheat over the past 24 years.

To read the article in full, visit: aafarmer.co.uk/crops/what-will-happen-to-late-sown-wheats-if-spring-2020-turns-dry.html

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