WATCH: Forced into drilling later this season?


For those who have been forced into drilling later this season due to the weather, it’s important to consider all available options, advises Tim O'Donovan, Technical Director with Seedtech.

Key points to consider when drilling late:

Once you have planned to drill winter cereals, (manage workload at harvest/profitability/rotational reasons) the following reminders will help keep your options open as the season moves on and drilling is delayed:

  • Winter cereals can be drilled right through to end January and successfully go through vernalisation;

  • Ground conditions (crop establishment) are most important, not drilling date, per se;

  • Hybrid barley varieties (BELFRY & BAZOOKA) out-perform conventional barley varieties in challenging conditions and when later drilled;

  • GRAHAM winter wheat is the earliest maturing variety on the DAFM rec list 2020;

  • As we no longer have Redigo Deter, slug hollowing of seeds before emergence needs to be monitored very carefully this year.

Autumn 2019 has been a difficult sowing season for Irish cereal growers we have spoken to.

It has been a challenging autumn to drill winter cereals, due to constant rain preventing any real run at drilling.

The only lucky thing is, we had a dry(ish) summer, and at least, the ground water levels are not too high.

So, waiting for a settled period means drilling later than what we are used to, and farmers have been contacting us with some common queries:

  1. How late can we drill?

  2. What variety can offer an advantage in less than ideal conditions?

  3. What is the correct seeding rate?

1. How late can we drill?

  • BELFRY & BAZOOKA winter barley and GRAHAM winter wheat are successfully vernalised (acquire their cold days) when drilled up to end January.

  • HUSKY winter oats is a spring-type and has no ‘winter’ vernalisation requirement.

  • Good establishment of late drilled winter cereals is more important than drilling date, per se. Placing any seed into ‘smeared’ ground will increase losses, especially in wet conditions during establishment;

  • The yield of the Seedtech winter barley trials 2018 was 10 tonnes per hectare (date of drilling 1st November 2017) so later drilled crops can be very profitable.

2. What variety might offer an advantage in less than ideal conditions?

  • BELFRY & BAZOOKA have ‘hybrid vigour’ and can compensate for low plant numbers by producing more tillers and more grains per ear than conventional barley.

  • In the Seedtech experiments below, BELFRY & BAZOOKA drilled at low seed rates (mimicking establishment losses) yielded the same as high seed rates due to greater spring growth and more grains per ear.

  • GRAHAM winter wheat is the earliest maturing variety on the DAFM rec list 2020 so can help pull back lost days due to delayed drilling;

  • HUSKY oats can be successfully drilled right through April as it is a spring-type.

3. What is the correct seeding rate?

  • Ground conditions are more important than seed rate - avoid placing seed in ‘smeared’ channels.

  • Hybrid barley can ‘behave like wheat’ and compensate for lower establishment compared to a conventional 2 or 6-row barley.

  • Monitor late drilled crops for slugs and rooks.

Seedtech suggested seed rates:

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