RGT Saki has continued to deliver excellent yields and some useful premiums for several of our Growers Club members despite the tricky season, which saw extremes of weather and disease test crops to the limit.
Top Farm, Croydon, Cambridgeshire
· Area farmed – 260ha + 500ha on contract basis
· Soils – mainly heavy clay
· RGT Saki – 80ha
· Drilled October/November
· Second and third wheats
RGT Saki has nudged ahead of other varieties at Top Farm this season, with average yields within a whisker of 10t/ha, despite being late-drilled in second and third wheat slots.
“We had planned to sow all the RGT Saki after pulses but the weather refused to play ball, giving us the another really tough autumn following the disastrous one in 2019,” says Sam Morris.
“Our whole rotation went out of the window and we ended up drilling what we could when we could. We grabbed a decent weather window in the first week of October to get the third wheat Saki in, but the second wheat had to wait until mid November.”
After a slow start in sub-standard conditions, the variety looked as good as anything by late spring. “Once it got away it showed really good vigour,” says Sam. “By the time spring came we had crops that were well worth protecting.
“We got away with cheap and cheerful T0. At T1 I thought we’d used a more robust mix than we needed, using an SDHI plus triazole at a good rate.
“Looking back I’m glad we did at that timing and at T2, when we thought about cutting back as the crops were very clean. But by then it had rained and more was forecast – we were looking at ideal septoria conditions.
“That, the loss of chlorothalonil and the good wheat price made up our minds, and we went all out at T2. Septoria did start to come in later, especially on the earlier sown third wheat, but we managed to nip it in the bud with new chemistry at T3.
“Overall I was very pleased with the RGT Saki, especially given is less than ideal start. Both pieces averaged 9.8t/ha at 15% moisture. The variety did a lot better than our Group 3, which we have dropped, and we also managed to sell the Saki on a biscuit contract for a £10/t premium.”
This has persuaded him that not all varieties with Cougar in their parentage are the same. “If we went way from them completely it wouldn’t leave us a lot of choice, and we could end up putting too few eggs in one basket. I’ll be looking at a further 100ha of RGT Saki this autumn.”
Pates Farm, Tipps End, Welney, Norfolk
· Area farmed – 320ha
· Soils – silt and skirt fen
· RGT Saki – 27ha
· Drilled November
· Third wheat
RGT Saki has passed another stern test, this time in Norfolk, with 27ha of very late-sown first and second wheats hitting budgeted yields at Ken Goodger’s Pates Farm.
The variety was drilled in late November and early December, the first wheat block following camomile and spring beans.
“We grow a lot of potatoes and grow and process herbs into essential oils, so we have very heavy autumn workload,” says Ken. “Wheat is very much a break crop for us and tends to be drilled very late when we find the time.”
Everything was ploughed and combi-drilled this season, and the RGT Saki was sown at 220kg/ha. “The field behind beans slumped and only looked half a crop for a while, but it more than made up for it.
“It took ages to get going in the spring, but we chased it along and gave it a good fungicide programme. It fared pretty well and we didn’t see much disease.”
Ken is very pleased with the results. “I liked how the RGT Saki looked in the field, it stood well and we ended up with a better-than-expected average of 8.8t/ha.”
That gave it the edge over its nearest rival to become Ken’s best-performing wheat . “We also ended up with good quality. I was about to put it on the feed pile but got a call from Fengrain who alerted me to a biscuit contract, so we managed to secure a very useful premium!”
Ken has already placed his order for more RGT Saki this autumn.
Limebar Farm, Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire
· Area farmed –115 hectares
· Soil – sandy loam
· RGT Saki 8ha
· Drilled early October
· Continuous wheat
RGT Saki has turned in a good performance on Stephen Buckle’s sandy loams at Limebar Farm.
His commercial RGT Saki crop belied a middle-of-the pack performance in his on-farm trials and produced 10t/ha, on a par with his usual best-performing variety, despite being the first year he had grown it on any scale.
“I grew 8ha and have discounted one very late field that was an unfair test for anything,” says Stephen. “Four tonnes an acre is pretty typical around here this season – we seem to have had a good harvest.”
Both the RGT Saki and his other leading variety were drilled just before the rain, so had a good start. “It’s been difficult to put anything between them since,” says Stephen. “The yield is in line with my five-year mean, if we exclude last year’s horrendous season, so it’s done well.”
The crop was combi-drilled in early October as a continuous wheat, a practice first adopted across the farm in 2000.
Everything received a good four-spray fungicide programme, with SDHI/triazole mixtures at T1 and T2 and strobilurins at key timings to keep yellow rust at bay.
“The Saki looked good all year. Both septoria and yellow rust are important disease here – we had a run of dry springs which has been conducive to yellow rust. We had quite a bit last year, but saw very little this season, despite a very dry April,” says Stephen.
“Septoria was also well controlled, even though we had five inches of rain in May.
“Overall this season has been a good test for the variety, and it has performed well.”