New Winter Wheat on Trial at Mains of Thornton

Winter wheat is becoming an established part of the rotation at Murray Cooper’s organic arable unit at Mains Of Thornton near Inverurie, Aberdeenshire.

Last season he grew it for the first time, sowing 12ha in late October. The crop, grown for seed, yielded 5t/ha.

“We’ve grown spring wheat in the past, but it has not done that well for us,” says Murray. “I was reasonably happy with the winter wheat yield, given the season, and we’ve enough to fulfil the order book.”

This season he is trying a new variety, RGT Bairstow, on about 5ha. This potential Recommended List Candidate is a very high yielding soft Group 4 feed wheat.

“We’re always keen to try new varieties for organic use, and this one looks like it could be useful,” says Murray.

RGT Bairstow scores a strong 7 for Septoria tritici resistance, 8 and 7 respectively for yellow and brown rust and 6 for mildew. It is also resistant to orange wheat blossom midge.

Those scores will help reduce disease pressure on the crop. Murray also aims to start drilling in mid October to avoid lush growth, helping to keep the crop clean through the winter and into the spring.

He also sets great store by applying foliar feeds throughout the season, particularly phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and sulphur, based on soil and tissue tests to keep his crops in best possible condition. Applications to winter wheat will start once the crop has enough leaf.