spring cereals

Spring cereals update 2021

After a relatively good autumn for sowing winter cereal seed, farmers should now turn their attention to the spring and order their spring cereals early to increase the chances of obtaining the best varieties available.

Spring wheat
2020 spring wheat crops performed relatively well albeit with below average yields. In general, quality has been good, although the highest level of ergot seen for several years has caused some problems. Any pressure on spring wheat seed availability will be down to what happened with winter wheat drillings and the overall weather pattern during last October and November.

Spring Barley
In the main, spring barley seed crops performed relatively well in 2020. However, the wet autumn of 2019 and subsequent increase in demand for spring cereals that followed, together with last year’s difficult growing season, will see the spring barley seed market remain finely balanced for 2021.
Although 2020 saw an increase in spring barley seed production and an increase in new varieties coming onto the Recommended List, these gains are unlikely to be enough to mitigate against reports of below average yields, failed germinations, high screenings and problems with secondary growth at harvest, so it would be wise to book early, especially if you have a preferred variety.

Spring Oats
2020’s poor growing season, together with a lot of secondary growth, has resulted
in higher screening losses than normal
and below average yields. There will no doubt be some germination issues too. Although the area of spring oat production increased compared with 2019, this will not compensate anywhere near enough for this year’s high screenings and low yields. As a result, it is predicted there will be insufficient spring oat seed to cover a normal spring season.

Spring Beans
There is a similar situation with beans
as there is with oats. Due to such a shortage of winter beans last autumn, this automatically puts pressure on spring bean availability. Last year’s spring harvest in terms of yield was very poor, with high levels of bruchid beetle damage. This, together with expected low germinations, will result in not enough certified seed for a normal spring requirement.

Spring Triticale
It appears triticale dealt with the problematic growing conditions of 2020 better than a lot of alternative spring crops, with reported yields of 2.75 tonnes – 3.0 tonnes per acre and some very good straw yields.

Evelina Spring Barley – Mole Valley Farmers’ Exclusive
Spring Barley
In terms of spring barley seed availability, we continue to recommend using our exclusive variety Evelina, especially if you are wanting a variety with equally good grain and straw yields. 2020 saw a record year for Evelina sales, with many farmers reporting that Evelina had performed solidly, even with the difficult growing conditions experienced last year.

Attributes of Evelina

• Outstanding disease resistance
• High yields of grain and straw
• Good grain quality with high proteins and specific weight
• Quick to establish
• Early to mature
• Tall straw with good standing power
• Low growing costs.

Since its introduction in 2016, Evelina has performed exceptionally well across a range of farms. It continues to prove popular with livestock farmers growing it for its bold grain and high straw yields. Evelina’s superb disease resistance makes it a versatile variety suitable for growing in all regions across the UK. This, alongside competitive grain yields, tall straw and high specific weights, makes it a useful variety.

Hampshire arable farmer Richard Monk has been growing Evelina since 2016. He says it is an easy crop to grow and a tidy feed variety to go into ration mixes.

He adds: “It’s easy to manage, combines well and produces a good-looking grain, with a decent specific weight. It’s taller than the Recommended Listed varieties and has good resistance to lodging. The extra straw it produces will be of particular interest to livestock users. Any disease issues were managed without undue cost and straw height could be controlled to suit end use.”

Trevor Cope of Cope Seeds adds: “In UK trials, Evelina showed outstanding disease resistance with no weaknesses, the grains produced high specific weights and had low screenings. It has quick establishment and is early to mature and the straw was visibly taller than other varieties.”

For more information about spring cereal seed or to book your Evelina, please contact James Henderson or Suzanne Smyth on 01769 576232.