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A bumper winter wheat  crop saw Lincolnshire grower Mark Stubbs scoop top prize in the ADAS Yield Enhancement Network Cereals competition. The 16.6t/ha crop... Skyscraper delivers gold for Lincolnshire grower

A bumper winter wheat  crop saw Lincolnshire grower Mark Stubbs scoop top prize in the ADAS Yield Enhancement Network Cereals competition.

The 16.6t/ha crop of LG Skyscraper yielded an outstanding 16.6t/ha when it was harvested last year. It was second time lucky for Mr Stubbs, who last won the competition in 2019 with a crop of KWS Siskin that yielded 16.3t/ha.

Mr Stubbs puts his success down to an attention to detail encompassing delayed drilling, widespread use of farmyard manure and a move away from ploughing. “We find that the nutrition contained in the manures kicks in early on, giving the crop a good start.”

Crop rotation

Wheat is the mainstay of the rotation for A&C Stubbs & Sons who farm 688ha across two sites on the Lincolnshire Wolds and along the east coast. The winning wheat crop was grown on heavy clay at Marsh Chapel. Other crops include oilseed rape and spring barley.

Mr Stubbs says he has always been pleased with the Skyscraper’s yields, which average 10.5t/ha. Grain quality is consistently good and specific weight is a priority, with last year’s crop delivering a very acceptable spec weight of 80kg/hl.

LG Skyscraper joined the AHDB Recommended List in 2019. Since then, it has remained a firm favourite on farm for its consistent high yielding performance across seasons, strong agronomics and suitability for later drilling for black-grass control.

Attention to detail and planning before the season begins is a key part of Mr Stubbs’ approach.  This starts with variety choice; he grows seed crops of new varieties, so is in a good position to see what varieties do well in the colder, exposed Wold conditions, or in fields along the coast.

The 2023 YEN winning wheat crop followed an oilseed rape crop that was allowed to green-up for as long as possible acting as a catch crop, before cultivating with a tine disc cultivator and packer, followed by a shallow disc cultivator.

Drilling dates

Wheats are generally drilled around the last week of October; however, last year it was very wet, so he waited a week, drilling the LG Skyscraper on 11 November, at a rate of 250kg/ha aiming for a plant population of 275 plants/m2 in the spring.

His aim – given the blackgrass legacy – is to produce a thick, competitive crop which has immediate access to nutrients, so that it can grow away strongly.

Optimising crop nutrition is important to achieve high yields. Manures are applied to stubbles and then incorporated within six hours. This has seen soil organic matter rise from an index of 2-10 despite the highly, acidic calciferous soils.

For the YEN crop, liquid nitrogen (225N,10%S) was applied in three splits, four weeks apart, and on average received 210kgN/ha, excluding the manure. “I don’t cut corners in terms of timing but will alter products according to the weather and disease pressure at the time.”

He favours a “little and often” approach, and in-season crop monitoring to fine-tune requirements. “We soil test and use the Yara N-tester to gauge how well the plant is doing and to address any shortfalls.”

Spray programme

A standard four spray programme was used for the LG Skyscraper. “ The variety has a weaker rating for Septoria (4.9), so it is important to tackle this early which means we are not chasing disease through this season, and in doing so we have never had too much of a problem,” he says.

“Despite being slightly taller-strawed, lodging in LG Skyscraper has never been an issue even on the more fertile Wold soils, but we use PGRs as and when needed, to support the crop we have in the ground.

“As last year’s crop was grown on the March site with heavier soils, crop emergence and growth were slower, and coupled with late drilling, the crop didn’t reach a leggy stage, so a robust T1 was used which proved sufficient to regulate the crop.”

He explains that a T0 was applied but with the key aim of manipulating the plant to ensure it was strong and healthy, and a bio stimulant was applied to boost the plant’s defence mechanism to fight any initial infections.

Harvest took place on 10 August – which Mr Stubbs points out was early for a late-drilled crop. “It literally turned overnight, it wasn’t ripe when we checked it two days before, so I think we caught it just in time.”

YEN Success 

Area: 3.2 ha (8 acres)

Variety: LG Skyscraper

Yield: 16.6t/ha

Specific weight: 80 kg/hl

T0 – Zonor + Scyon

T1 – Medax Max + Silvron Xpro + Firefly 155 + Starane Hi -Load + Ally max

T2 – Revystar XE + Tubosan

T3 – Deacon + Soratel + Kendo

Farm facts:

A&C Stubbs & Sons, Manor Farm, Calcethorpe

• 695ha of owned, tenanted and farm business tenancy (FBT) land

• Winter wheat, winter oilseed rape, spring barley

• Haulage business