We approach a spring likely to be vastly different to that of 2020. A large proportion of the farming community had never experienced such a cropping year (and hopefully never will again), where there was a very sizeable amount of spring cropping entered into the ground, in a delayed drilling season.
This has subsequently been followed with a projected wheat area this autumn at circa 1.8 million hectares, coupled with another significant fall in winter OSR and a shortfall despite a derogation in winter bean supply.
We now have to look ahead and assess the prospects and challenges for spring 2021 accordingly.
Spring Barley will again be in demand, albeit with a fall back to the more “normal” hectarage of the previous two years. However, the supposition that there will be a plentiful supply of seed may well be based on a slightly false pretence. It is certainly becoming apparent that although there was a very large crop planted and harvested, the quality of some of those crops is beginning to present a problem, with germinations looking poor and therefore availability perhaps not the given that was perceived.
RGT Planet, Laureate and LG Diablo (now fully approved for both malting and distilling) will be the main 3 varieties in terms of market share with newly recommended Tungsten and SY Splendor (under test) and Cosmopolitan (provisional recommendation) also competing within the sector.
Barley still offers the best competition for black-grass and therefore offers both an end market as well as agronomic benefit. These barleys also offer high yield and can hold their own against out and out feed varieties such as Fairway and Prospect.
Spring Wheat will also have a more traditional uptake, but invariably sells out and certainly varieties such as KWS Chilham, KWS Cochise and KWS Giraffe (very little available 2021) will be popular alongside Mulika as the only group one and Hexham may also see some uptake on the back of limited volumes this spring.
Spring Oats will definitely be in tight supply with Canyon still being the millers’ preference, but now seeing yield competition form WPB Isabel, Delfin and Elison.
Spring Pulses will be sought after, with beans being in demand after a shortfall in winter bean supply and a large reduction in winter OSR. Lynx will be the likely number one variety by area for spring 2021 with interest in LG Raptor and Ghengis likely to increase, depending upon availability.
Peas will in all likelihood also see an increase in demand and advice should be sought as to the preferred end markets before final varietal choice is decided upon.
Certainly, I would strongly advise that any pulse requirements are attended to at an early juncture to avoid disappointment!
Finally, there will again be a resurgence in spring oilseeds to give a rotational balance where required. We certainly saw greater volumes of Linseed and Spring OSR in 2020 and these patterns may well be followed again next year.