Measured nutrition central to excellent yield returns
Harvesting is in full swing in the midlands and northeast regions, and growers are generally happy with the results to date.
Winter oats was the crop which was 'nursed' during the season, due to the ravages of the frost and snow earlier in the year, and it yielded satisfactorily. Yields in the region of 7.5-9.1t/ha were achieved, which fully justified the decision not to plough them out.
Plant counts at the time were 120-200/m2 and the aim was to encourage root development to stabilise the plant and also to increase root area to maximise nutrient uptake. The low plant populations performed well with good grain fill and quality.
The question of plant counts has been raised by some growers in relation to winter wheat. Pre-harvest inspection, when all the leaves are dead, presents a different crop view relative to the full canopy present earlier in the season. Heads/m2 are a combination of seed rate, fertiliser, growth regulation programmes, weather factors and management.
Seed rate is generally around 350-450/m2. Germination and emergence rates reduces this to 325-410/m2, and after you add in the impact of winter and pests, the springtime plant count could be 230-330.
Tillering adds to the basic head count, resulting in about two viable tillers per plant, which in turn leads to around 840 heads/m2 on average. This is a theorectical figure and the reality shows a greater range.
However, the importance of tiller management and survival is the essence of yield potential.
I recently looked at crops with low plant counts but which subsequently yielded very well at more than 11.4t/ha.