Cordiale still going strong after nearly a decade on farm

September 2016

Pelham Farming Company is preparing to reduce its oil seed rape area significantly for harvest 2017. Cutting the area, however, is not easy, explains Michael Watson, one of the business’s founding partners, the problem is in finding something suitable to replace it.

He has been consulting his agronomist Andrew Blazey of Prime Agriculture about the available replacements and winter barley is likely to account for a proportion of the area while an increase in spring barley and spring beans will account for the rest.

“The desire is to front load as much combining and cultivations as possible and winter barley helps with that. Across the three farms that make up the group there is already a large area of spring barley which typically matures part way through combining wheat so where we can bring the wheat forward through variety choice we will,” says Andrew Blazey.

This will also support a desire to move to a longer rotation in part to prevent the farm’s black-grass situation from becoming worse.

“If we are not drilled up by the second week of October then we wait until the spring. This is perhaps one of our biggest changes in recent years. The area of spring cropping has increased four-fold, as we seek to contain our problem with black-grass. It’s not as serious as some, but that’s how we want to keep it,” says Michael.

The list of early maturing wheats likely to attract a premium however, is short. For nearly a decade, Michael and his brother Ian have grown the Group 2 milling wheat Cordiale with good results, but before this harvest he was contemplating cutting the area in favour of a more recent introduction that promised better performance. It’s a decision that has since been reversed.

“All our wheats have done much the same. There is no real difference between KWS Trinity or KWS Santiago as a first wheat or Cordiale as a second wheat. They are all down around 15% on 2015 at about 8.5t/ha. The one positive however, is that quality has been good. Both the milling wheats made full specification.”

For the first time, milling specification was made without the use of foliar applied liquid nitrogen.

“We have long had concerns about the damage foliar N does to the flag leaf. It’s hard to time appropriately and the damage to the flag leaf is galling. You spend all spring trying to keep it clean and green only to undo it all with 40 kg/ha N as liquid urea.Instead, this year we applied 60kg N/ha as ammonium nitrate at flag leaf and the results have been encouraging. The Cordiale produced grain proteins of 13% with bushel weights of 79 – 80 kg/hl.With this performance and the early harvest that Cordiale offers its fits well with our desire is to front load as much combining and cultivations as possible” he says.