A crop of RGT Planet grown on very heavy boulder clay soils in south Cambridgeshire has delighted first-time grower Sam Morris.
About 40ha of the variety was drilled in a tight weather window at the end of March 2018 at E J Morris & Son’s Top Farm, near Croydon.
The ground destined for the crop, which is grown to help combat blackgrass, was ploughed in late autumn, lightly cultivated and left until spring before being sprayed off with glyphosate.
The wet weather that had set in around Christmas eased towards the end of March, providing an opportunity to get the crop sown.
“We’d had a lot of rain over the winter, but we managed to travel,” says Sam. “The conditions were less than ideal, but we used a decent seed rate of 190kg/ha.
“Looking back, pressing on was the right thing to do – it would have been at least two weeks before we could have got the drill out again, and I think that earlier start made a big difference to the crop.”
A planned pre-emergence herbicide application had to be shelved due to the weather. This allowed patches of blackgrass to come through.
However, the crop continued to establish and grow vigorously, and a robust T1 and T2 fungicide programme based on Siltra XPro, combined with growth regulators, paid off.
“Our spring barley crops can brackle badly, but we didn’t suffer at all this harvest,” says Sam.
“The crop looked amazing and averaged 9t/ha overall and made malting specification.
“I really didn’t think it would do as well as it did. We had to manage the nitrogen carefully, as you’d expect on heavy ground, and we had some really bad blackgrass areas.
“I think the extra couple of weeks at the start really helped, making the crop more competitive and setting it up for the season.”
The RGT Planet replaced Propino, and was chosen on the back of grower experience, trials performance and conversations with the trade.
“I’m very pleased we switched,” says Sam. “It was an incredible barley crop, and produced a yield well above our five-year average. We also have a ready market – the maltsters seem to like RGT Planet."
“We’ll be growing it again on 50ha area in 2019, and as long as it fits the bill we’ll stick with it.”