From Green to Brown

By Peter Lundgren, The Farmer

Just one hot sunny day after the seemingly endless grey days during June and early July has seen the field of wheat change dramatically in appearance from green to brown. The crop has started to ‘turn’ from green to brown as it enters its period of senescence and begins to ripen ready for harvest.

It’s still very difficult to estimate the yield. What effect have all those grey days had on the plants ability to photosynthesise? Did enough sun get through those clouds to keep the plants going? I think we had enough rain to maintain sufficient soil moisture but with the rain comes an increased risk from fungal disease. Has the wet weather had a detrimental effect on yield?

The field of wheat is entered into the YEN programme and part of that programme is to work out the maximum potential yield based on a number of factors such as location, soil type and the weather. And then by comparing the actual yield with the maximum potential yield it gives growers an opportunity to identify the factors limiting yield and develop mitigating strategies.

Also as part of the YEN programme the soil has been analysed for acidity and the availability of nutrients. Again this has shown a slight deficiency in potassium K so we need to think about retaining the potassium that is already in the soil and look at methods to increase the potassium levels – or more importantly increase the levels of potassium available to the growing plants.

I’m also hopeful that the University of Lincoln will become involved and use the field of wheat as part of their scientific projects looking to under more about soil micro-organisms and soil ecosytems; and also a project using robotics to assess soil moisture.

Please feel free to read through questions and responses from the Field of Wheat collective members and the Farmer.