This month we catch up with Yorkshire farmer Phil Meadley.

We know how our varieties perform in trials but it’s even more important to see how they perform on farm, and that’s where our Growers Club comes in.

  • M Meadley & Sons, Grange Farm, North Frodingham, Driffield

  • Area farmed: 242 hectares

  • Soil types: Sandy clay loam

  • Key crops: Winter wheat, winter oilseed rape, spring barley, spring beans, vining peas

Phil Meadley is trying a new RAGT quality wheat variety this season, RGT Zinzan, a Recommended List candidate that offers a wide drilling window similar to Skyfall.

“Later drilling is very much part of our blackgrass control policy,” says Phil. “We don’t go as late some – we can’t this far north – but we don’t drill any wheat until the start of October.”

Phil Meadley

However, when the weather does turn the soil can take an age to dry, so Phil needs flexibility. “We need a variety that fits with our grassweed policy and we don’t want to be panicking about getting it in.

“We want something that we can safely drill through to the beginning of March that has good quality – yields are going to be down anyway so having the chance of a premium becomes more important.”

This season he hasn’t had to wait that long. Although unable to complete the drilling programme in the autumn, mainly due to catchy weather and concern over destroying the regenerated cover in case the weather closed in again, he was able to drill a tonne of RGT Zinzan seed in early February.

Good establishment

The crop was near fully emerged by mid March and appears to have established well. “We knew we would have other opportunities to drill the crop so we didn’t push it,” says Phil.

“I also wanted to see how it would perform later drilled, and as well as that our sandy clay loams don’t allow easy travelling after rain, so we might not have been able to spray pre-em herbicides, which would have set back our weed control.”

All being well the crop will make the spec for local miller Bradshaws. “We aim for Group 2 quality – we struggle to meet Group 1 protein spec and it’s a good local home, only nine miles away, that likes to buy locally grown wheat whenever possible.”

Phil is also growing about 40ha of RGT Saki which has historically done well on the farm. “It always seems to give a reasonable yield and its disease resistance has held up well. All our spraying is done by contractors and our soils are not always easy to access.

“With CTL no longer available, Septoria is becoming a bigger problem, so we grow wheat with good resistance scores. Saki’s grain quality is good and Bradshaws will take it on a soft milling premium, and we have local feed mills as well.”

Trimming nitrogen

Winter wheats have had their first nitrogen and sulphur dressings. Most nitrogen was bought at a reasonable price, but he had to buy one load late. He has already taken the decision to trim N by 5-6% for economic reasons, and to spread applications across three splits rather than two to minimise losses. “As long as we can average the 10.5% protein required to achieve milling, we’ll be happy.”

Prices of agchem inputs look like increasing by 10-15% compared with last year. “Where possible we use generic products, although last two years have used small amounts of Univoq and Revystar.

“But we are growing more resistant varieties so we’re not panicked into using expensive products, and we are drilling them later at sensible seed rates so we are not encouraging disease.”

On another plus point, Phil has stuck with oilseed rape, with a fenugreek/berseem companion crop mix to deter flea beetle spun on after drilling and rolled in to avoid holding up the contractor.

“We managed to deter the beetle but it might be more to do with sowing date, as an earlier-drilled field does have beetle in it. Perhaps a combination of companion crop and later drilling might help.”

Phil's February-drilled RGT Zinzan in emerging well

RGT Zinzan

  • High quality milling wheat

  • Very high yields

  • High Hagberg and specific weight

  • Rates positive for export (ukp)

  • OWBM resistant

  • Pch1 eyespot resistance gene

  • Low vernalisation requirement, similar to Skyfall

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