Weekly Wisdom 28 September 2016

GRAIN

The Sterling has dropped to a post-Brexit low yesterday against the euro, with £1 worth €1.1482 as of yesterday according to the European Central Bank.

The Sterling has fallen from almost £1=€1.20 earlier this month, with the current rate the lowest since early August 2013.

The weakening sterling has supported UK domestic prices recently, providing an additional boost to UK grain values over and above movements in other markets. Looking ahead, the weaker Sterling since the Brexit vote has sheltered the UK wheat market from the broadly bearish price movements in world grain markets. 

After recent forecasts suggesting a record Australian wheat harvest, there are now concerns. Ample soil moisture has been supporting the production outlook but forecasts for a wet Australian spring (through to end-November) are starting to cause concern for production, along with quality.

A wetter than average spring is forecast for the eastern side of Australia, where around half of Australia’s wheat is produced, including much of the country’s high protein wheat.

There are fears that the production forecast may not be hit due to wet weather, or that lower quality could mean more of the crop, even if it remains large, being downgraded to feed wheat, could limit exportable supplies of higher-quality wheat.

Australian quality issues would follow similar issues reported in many of the world’s main wheat producing/exporting regions, such as Russia. Global feed grain markets, already feeling the pressure of expected record world supplies, could become even heavier.

SEED

We recently received a report from KWS which focuses on late drilling.

Over the past decade there has been a marked trend in the towards later drilling of Autumn sown wheats. The main reason for this has been to aid the control of blackgrass through spraying off an early flush of weeds.
late drilling seeds

Interestingly, research by the AHDB has shown that ‘delayed sowing of winter wheat by 3 weeks from mid/late September to early/mid October reduced blackgrass infestations by 33% on average.

In addition heads and seeds per plant were reduced by an average of 49%’.

Seed Rates and Seed Treatments

It is suggested that seed rates should be adjusted upwards however, particularly if conditions in the days and weeks immediately post drilling are set to deteriorate.

Robust seed rates will be particularly important with low tillering varieties like Grafton, Scout and Solstice and low thousand grain weight seed.

For October drilling sowing at 300 seeds/sq m from the start of the month, rising to 350 seeds or more towards the end, given reasonably good seed-bed conditions.

Other than helping to combat the challenge of colder, less-ideal seed-beds – not to mention intense slug pressures studies have shown these sort of seed rates can really help maximise competition with grassweeds.

This method is heavily adopted by organic growers who do not have the array of treatments available to them.
With commodity prices under pressure the value of seed treatments has been questioned. While later drilling should reduce the threat aphids pose to virus transmission a single purpose dressing should be considered a minimum to protect against certain seed borne diseases.

Slugs

slugs

Slugs and other pests are a significant threat to late drilled crops but there is time to establish the level of risk and decide on an appropriate course of action.

Application research by AHDB suggests broadcasting pellets to the surface after drilling is likely to be more effective rather than applying them with the seed.

Similarly, the number of baiting points required is also overstated. Just 32-35 pellets per square metre are sufficient to achieve effective control with standard size pellets.