What is the right wheat variety?
Tough decision-making processes after the hot summer of 2018
There are several factors which play an important role in the successful cultivation of wheat and which can affect crop yield. In the Münsterland area, in the north west of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany, it is common that wheat follows corn in the crop rotation and that the type of soil can differ even within the same field. Nevertheless, there is a further important factor which has a significant influence on the crop yield. The potential impact of choosing the best wheat variety should not be underestimated and requires the expertise and experience of the farmer. The choice of the most suitable variety can determine the amount of yield. Therefore, the farmer should be well-informed about the differences between wheat varieties because there is a broad range of these. The farmer in the Münsterland area can inform himself by studying the variety trials which are published by the Chamber of Agriculture of North Rhine-Westphalia. Although even the trials and articles published cannot give the farmer the absolute certainty that he has chosen the correct variety.
For example, in the last year, it was a very hot summer in Germany. Especially in this area, there was significantly less rain for agriculture in comparison to earlier years. Therefore, the 2018 edition of the plant production and protection guidebook, published by the Chamber of Agriculture of North Rhine-Westphalia, suggests on the one hand choosing early ripening varieties. The purpose of this strategy is that the variety will not be fully exposed to the summer heat which could occur this year and will, therefore, bring good yields at harvest. On the other hand, a look at the latest results of the national variety trials showed that the opposite was the case. The varieties with early ripening characteristics did not show any great advantage over other varieties. It was further stated in the report that the benefit of early ripening varieties very much depends on the year and its weather circumstances. In conclusion, the equation and calculation: hot summer equals choosing early ripening varieties does not pay off in the end. (Röhling, 2018)
The drought in 2018 in the Münsterland area showed that the choice of wheat variety and its yield stability is more important than ever before. Due to this, German agricultural journals of last year recommended choosing and cultivating at least two different varieties to lower the risk of a total loss when these face possible extreme weather conditions. (Rohlmann, 2018)
The management of our best test farm, Kleffmann, chose two wheat varieties, which differ in their characteristics, in order to be well prepared and to achieve a high crop yield in 2019. The first variety outperforms the second in the following characteristics: early ripening, early sowing, winter hardiness, leaf health status and tolerance against the Fusarium fungi. (Nordrhein-Westfalen, 2018)
All in all, it can be said that the farmer can have a certain influence on the crop yield by choosing the variety which best fits the farm’s crop yield expectations, soil, crop rotation and local climate conditions. Nevertheless, nature will have the final say during the next few weeks and the farmer will be able to see whether or not he chose the best wheat variety for his farm.
Nordrhein-Westfalen, L. (10. August 2018). Landwirtschaftskammer. Accessed from https://www.landwirtschaftskammer.de/landwirtschaft/ackerbau/getreide/winterweizen/winterweizen-sv-2018.htm
Röhling, D. M. (2018). Ratgeber Pflanzenbau und Pflanzenschutz. Münster: Landwirtschaftsverlag GmbH.
Rohlmann, A.-K. (September 2018). Weizen: Ertragsstabilität ist wichtiger denn je. topagrar, S. 74-78.
Titus Schier, My Data Plant Sales Western Europe
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