- Many UK farmers are exploring cereal blends as a way of tacking disease and reducing inputs in favour of a regenerative approach to farming
- Seed supplier Cope Seeds and Grain, is launching a pre-mixed range of organic and conventional wheat blends to meet growing interest in this approach
“Blends are nothing new,” says Gemma Clarke, managing director of Cope Seeds and Grain. “Back in the 1980s there were many thousands of tonnes of seed blends being sold and grown in the UK. However, with the pressure on seed plants to get tonnage through in the autumn, they faded away.
“We believe blends are being more readily considered by conventional and organic farmers who are looking to grow using regenerative principles. Therefore, we are now offering two organic wheat blends and two conventional wheat blends that have been carefully considered and selected,” says Gemma.
Nick Padwick, farms and estate director for Ken Hill Farms and Estate in Norfolk, and has been growing his own wheat blends for two years without applying any fungicide so far. “My father grew blends and it’s coming back around. Gone are the days where yield is king. Now the focus really has to be about reducing inputs, reducing the reliance on synthetics, including artificial fertiliser and looking after our soils.
“We selected our four top performing feed wheat varieties in terms of disease resistance and we blended them. The ultimate aim is to stop using inputs entirely and build healthy soils which support healthy plants,” says Nick.
Farmers such as Nick who work with Cope Seeds and Grain are interested in regenerative practices and for this reason, the blends have been launched to offer growers alternatives to straight wheat varieties.
“We have passed the time where we need to see a field of level crops. Fields of different heights containing different varieties of healthy wheat is the future,” says Gemma.
Gemma explains that research carried out by Dr Kristoffersen from Aarhus University in Denmark, found that growing different blends of wheat varieties helps to increase yield potential as well as reducing disease pressure.
“Looking at over 19 years-worth of official Danish data, a four-way blend was grown each year in official trials as a reference. The results showed the blend reduced Septoria severity by approximately 10% with an increase in yields of 1.4%. In untreated trials, these advantages increased to 17% reduction in Septoria severity and 2.4% increase in yield,” says Gemma.
“Compared to populations, Cope Seeds’ blend formulations will keep evolving. Through constant monitoring and knowledge of which lines have been incorporated, we are able to pull out any potential lines that may break down and add in newer varieties with better disease resistance to ensure it remains robust. We are bringing together the benefits of both nature and science through modern plant breeding,” adds Gemma.
Conventional Feed Wheat Blend
The Tristar blend has been specifically formulated to include three varieties from three different breeding stables and therefore genetics. This variation in genetics will help the blend fulfil its purpose in protecting the other lines, should one’s resistance start to falter. Tristar will offer early maturity and high untreated yield potential and this yield potential comes from strong disease resistances between the varieties including the highest resistance to Septoria Tritici. The quality of the grain is also of the highest merit, and has the ability to produce a bold sample.
Conventional Soft Wheat Blend
The Triple X blend is made from a range of soft wheat varieties that offer early to medium maturity, with strong resistance to rust and high grain quality. This blend has been created to ensure it meets soft wheat market requirements while offering the blend benefits of reduced disease and high untreated yield potential. Buy-back Contracts are available.
Organic Milling Soft Wheat Blend
This season, Cope Seeds is offering a two-way soft wheat blend with a milling buy-back contract. The blend will be a later maturing crop with high yield potential and tall straw, perfect for weed suppression. The varieties within the blend are proven organically and together offer some protection against Orange Wheat Blossom Midge. A buy back for Summit with a premium over organic feed wheat is available.
Organic Dual Purpose Wheat Blend
Apex combines two of the best wheat varieties for untreated yield potential, Septoria tritici resistance and early maturity. Not only is Apex strong agronomically, the grain quality of this blend is superb with high specific weights, high habergs and potentially high levels of protein suitable for milling. This blend is suitable both for feed and could make milling specification. A buy back for Apex is available for either feed or milling.
To find out more visit www.copeseeds.co.uk.