Lili meets the criteria for Beds farmer

September 2016

High yield, the chance of a price premium over feed, and a sound disease profile. The much-prized characteristics of a good variety and the criteria used by Nick Farr when searching for new wheat to complement the farms Group 1 milling wheats.

“We’re primarily Group 1 milling wheat growers so whatever variety we chose, it had to show good sprouting resistance because the Skyfall and KWS Trinity will always take priority. Fortunately, this harvest has been reasonably smooth and trouble-free so the last requirement has not been tested, but it always pays to consider such issues when choosing between varieties,” says Nick Farr who farm’s in in partnership with his brother, son and nephew.

Mr Farr scrutinised the AHDB Recommended List to identify those varieties that met the initial criteria before further refining the selection based on shedding scores and standing ability. “We also wanted a variety that would be slightly later to mature to spread the harvest workload, KWS Lili fitted our needs exactly,” he says.

This year he drilled 133ha of the Group 2 variety as a first wheat after oilseed rape. It yielded 10.5t/ha which, given the contrasting season, he is delighted with.

“I doubt many growers will think of 2016 as a vintage year; our yields and those of our neighbours have been disappointingly average at best. We need to accept it and look to a better year in 2017,” says Nick Farr.

Sprayer operator Paul Eaglen was responsible for managing the crop through the season and says that despite the difficulties brought on by the weather – rainfall in June was nearly four times the monthly average for the farm – the wheat looked in fine shape as harvest approached.

“All the wheat received the same fungicide regime and nitrogen application (see table) and it looked good throughout the spring and into the summer. An average yield of about 10.5t/ha is very satisfying considering the poor conditions in May and June,” says Mr Eaglen.

Data tables - Lili protocol

“From a management perspective it fitted the farm well. It gave us all we wanted and as a high tillering variety we were confident it would establish well ahead of the black-grass,” he adds.
Like many other farms, Newnham Manor Farm has its share of black-grass and the difficulties in controlling it have reached a point that the area of oilseed rape has been cut to a minimum.

“We’ve had to accept that we can no longer control black-grass in oilseed rape. This combined with the threat of flea beetle damage, low market prices and variable performance means we have increased the area of spring barley at the expense of oilseed rape,” he says.