How well a wheat crop is growing during the season can now be assessed much more accurately, thanks to a revamped AHDB publication.
The AHDB Wheat growth guide, which allows crop progress, structure and final performance to be measured and compared against a series of UK benchmarks, has been extensively revised.
With its last major revision having been in 2008, the update takes account of recent changes in varieties and the growing environment. It also has a fresh new look.
Central to the guide is a common set of UK wheat crop benchmarks. Each benchmark is a reference point against which a crop’s performance can be compared.
The benchmarks are based on observations of high-yielding feed wheat with a slow rate of development, across several seasons at UK sites. During the revision, each benchmark was checked for accuracy and updated where necessary.
Sajjad Awan, who specialises in resource management at AHDB, said: “Measurement is vital for effective management at every stage of a crop’s progress. As well as assessing weeds, pests and diseases, crop managers must assess the crop itself.
“Many factors influence crop growth, but – broadly speaking – crop genetics, natural resources and husbandry all interact. The guide can be used to work out how important each factor is.
“It’s not an agronomy manual, but it can be used to identify where a management intervention could make a difference.”
The guide now includes information on how much each benchmark is affected by crop genetics – using an index of low, medium and high – and husbandry.
This information is critical because variety choice is key where benchmarks are strongly affected by genetics. Where genetics are not so critical, husbandry choices become more important.
Other key changes in the updated guide include:
> An infographic to show how wheat grows and forms yield
> A section on wheat growth and yield
> At-a-glance information on benchmarks during key growth phases and stages
> Clear information on ways to measure key benchmarks
>Improved information on grain quality
The update is part of an ADAS-led project to review growth guides for both wheat and barley. The revised AHDB Barley growth guide will be published later in 2018.
The guide can be accessed at https://cereals.ahdb.org.uk/wheatgg