Matching variety to drilling date for Peak Performance

The third week of September typically marks the start of the winter wheat drilling window for the majority of varieties.

For those able and willing to drill from this time, it often makes good sense. Trials show that crops drilled in September typically produce higher yields than those drilled in October or later because the crop has more time in the ground to intercept sunlight.

Establishment rates are often better too. At about 70% for September drilled crops, plant establishment gradually falls away to less than 50% in November. Consequently, seed rates have to be increased to off-set reduced seed viability and compensate for less tillering.

While drilling early has its benefits it is not for all growers. There are several considerations that need to first be balanced, such as the higher disease pressure that comes with the greater carryover of inoculum through the winter or the desire to control problem weeds.

Perhaps the greatest consideration however, is variety choice. Grafton is one of the slowest varieties to develop in the autumn making it ideally suited to drilling from the start of September.

Fortunately, growers have plenty of choice for the main drilling window. Successive years of plant breeding has led to the development of varieties specifically suited to this window.

From the high-yielding quality wheats KWS Lili and KWS Zyatt through to the biscuit-makers KWS Barrel and KWS Basset and feed wheats KWS Kerrin and KWS Santiago, there is a wide choice of varieties available depending on your farm situation and desired end-market.

All can be reliably sown in to November though seed rates may need to be adjusted according to soil type, field aspect, location and previous cropping.

For those growers seeking an even longer drilling window, no other variety offers the same level of versatility as KWS Siskin, the most popular winter wheat for drilling in autumn 2017. Its best performances come from late September sowings, but it can be comfortably sown through to the end of December making it one of three varieties well-suited to drilling after roots.

A slightly later consideration is KWS Montana, a high protein quality wheat for specialist end-markets.

Finally, KWS Crispin is one of the best late-drilling varieties available. Ideally suited to early October through to the end of December it is the obvious choice for those wanting a safe variety to follow winter-lifted sugar beet or root crops.

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You can download the infographic here

If you are looking for advice on variety choice, then you can contact the KWS team by phone or email – we’re always happy to help.

Email –

Office – 01763 207300

Will Compson, Cereals Manager – 01763 207316

Martin Brown, Eastern Sales Specialist – 01763 207321

Rose Riby, Northern Sales Specialist – 07880 315830