The role of early maturing wheat
As growers move away from solely choosing varieties based on headline yields, one variety which might not otherwise have been considered is Group 4, KWS Parkin, which was a candidate for addition to the 2020/2021 Recommended List but was not added to the list.
Dr Richards says: “KWS Parkin is very interesting because, although it doesn’t stand out as a top yielder, its other qualities haven’t been highlighted in the data published.
“It’s an early maturing variety at -1, which nothing on the list currently is. It’s the shortest and stiffest variety available on the market today and is 15cm shorter than the tallest recommended variety.”
Parkin also has a balanced disease package and good quality grain, she says.
“This earliness makes it a valuable tool on-farm. Thinking back to older varieties suited to early drilling, including Cordiale, Soissons, Gallant and Grafton, these made up about 15% of the market for varieties drilled in 2012, but today on the RL there’s nothing below a zero.”
When drilled before September 25, RL data shows Parkin yields topped Gleam, RGT Gravity, Graham, KWS Santiago and Skyfall (see chart), she adds.
“Thinking ahead to autumn, if farmers are considering drilling earlier because of their experiences last year, it could be quite a useful variety to go with.
“However, it has a 5.5 for septoria so it will need a good fungicide programme. But the balance of short and stiff and early to harvest outweigh that when planned in the right place.”
For farmers, this makes July combining a real possibility with early wheats such as KWS Parkin and Extase sown in early autumn, says Mr Miles.
“July combining days, as long as yields are reasonable, are going to be really valuable.”
If Parkin is sown earlier, it could be ready four to five days ahead of other wheats on the farm, he says.
“In that time you could harvest 140-175 hectares.
“Using anecdotal figures, three days’ worth of combining, or 60ha cut, with yields of 9.5 tonnes/ha at £150/tonne, equates to £85,500 worth of wheat safe in the barn.
“There is a value to early harvest, but when you do the maths, it’s some big figures.
“Looking ahead, with the climate changing, this sort of figure will need to be considered more and more than just out and out yield,” adds Mr Miles.