We know how our varieties perform in trial but what’s even more important is how they perform on farm, and that’s where our Growers Club comes in.
We recently caught up with new member Richard Langton who is drilling some sizeable areas of RGT Wolverine and RGT Saki this season.
Langton Farms, Wenham Grange, Little Wenham, near Colchester
Area farmed: 500 hectares
Soil types: Loamy clay (Beccles series)
Key crops: Group 3 and 4 winter wheats, winter barley, oilseed rape, peas
Typical cultivations: Min-till; ploughing as necessary to help blackgrass control
RAGT varieties: RGT Saki, RGT Wolverine, RGT Planet
Main markets: Export, feed, peas for seed.
There has been a swing to RAGT wheats at Langton Farms in Suffolk to improve crop resilience and ease management while aiming for top yields.
Richard and Debra Langton, who farm 500ha of owned and tenanted land from Wenham Grange, Little Wenham, are sowing 57ha of RGT Wolverine for seed and 42ha of RGT Saki for feed this autumn.
“Both varieties tick the box when it comes reducing stress levels,” says Richard.
“Septoria tritici resistance, standing power and a decent bushel weight, as well as yield, are important considerations for us when choosing a variety.
“And, with RGT Wolverine’s BYDV resistance, we now have the opportunity to completely change the way we manage that disease.”
RGT Saki is an excellent choice for Septoria control, thanks to its 6.8 rating, and RGT Wolverine is no pushover either, scoring 5.5. Both stand well and have good specific weights that comfortably exceed the minimum feed specification.
In addition, RGT Saki will jointly top the 2021/22 AHDB Recommended List for yield. RGT Wolverine is capable of matching the Group 4 heavyweights even in the absence of BYDV.
Richard got off to a flying start with the RGT Wolverine. The crop, which follows peas, was disc-drilled after a pass with a disc/tine cultivator in late September and was out of the ground at the end of the first week of October.
This early showing should provide a good test for BYDV, given the number of aphids that have already been seen in crops.
“We had a recommendation to spray our Firefly in early October, so the pressure is there,” says Richard. “Being able to grow a resistant variety is really attractive.
“It means we won’t have to constantly monitor aphid populations through autumn and beyond, and we won’t have to spray insecticides repeatedly now that Deter has gone. I dislike spraying insecticides at the best of times – it was such a backward step to have lost a precision, seed-applied insecticide.”
Most of the farm’s loamy clay (Beccles series) soils are min-tilled, although blackgrass is present in some areas.
“We plough these areas as necessary to reset the clock – it’s not a big problem but we need to keep on our toes,” says Richard.
He also grows two spring crops in a row on the worst areas to maximise the number of blackgrass flushes between crops. Spring barley RGT Planet is earmarked for 33ha this season, which has proved to be a reliable performer on the farm.
He grew 120ha last spring, having been unable to complete the planned winter wheat drilling programme due to the wet autumn.
RGT Planet was drilled at the end of March and, despite three very dry months afterwards, produce 7-7.5t/ha.
“Given the season we were facing, we didn’t spend a huge amount of money on the crop,” says Richard. “I would have liked a tonne more but given the conditions it did very well, producing a lovely sample.”
The business is spreading fixed costs, having formed a joint venture with a neighbour who farms 200ha. All key machinery is shared, increasing efficiency and reducing costs.
The farm has been re-entered into the mid-tier environment scheme, to enhance environmental features on less productive areas without draining hard-won profits.
“We aim to look after the farm to keep it in the best possible shape,” says Richard. “We know the soil is in good heart and we want it to stay that way. We are not cover cropping and direct drilling yet, and it might not be for us, but we are keeping an open mind.
“That’s important for all aspects of the business if we to make the most of any opportunities that lie ahead.”