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Wheat drilling options

Product Update

Several growers have made a good start to winter cereal drilling in the first half of September, capitalising on predominantly warm and dry weather. It seems a majority of that has been barley and we are now getting into the key drilling window for wheat.

As we get into the main drilling period for winter wheat, we advise that growers prioritise drilling their first wheats into optimal conditions to maximise their potential, particularly in areas of low grass-weed pressure. As ever, seed bed quality is critical for maximising establishment and achieving a good even crop. It is also important not to over-do the planting density early in the drilling window as this is likely to increase growing costs with increased disease and lodging pressure.

When considering first wheats, GRAHAM, GLEAM and SY INSITOR are all excellent options. GRAHAM’s agronomic characteristics lend themselves to performing best in an early drilled, first wheat scenario as it combines slow over-winter development, excellent disease profile and stiff straw. For growers further North than Edinburgh, GLEAM or SY INSITOR are better options.

GLEAM is now a well-established variety with fantastic resilience, and we were glad to see its strong performance in the Recommended List trials from harvest 2020. The high tillering nature of GLEAM and the ability to retain those tillers effectively allows it to deliver in sub-optimal conditions.

Delayed Drilling

For those delaying drilling in a bid to minimise risks of take-all, BYDV and grassweed pressures, GLEAM, SY INSITOR and SHABRAS all perform well. SY INSITOR and SHABRAS have faster over-winter development, which is important when drilling into cooler, wetter seed beds, whilst GLEAM has an excellent ability to compensate in more marginal conditions.

Take all

Delayed drilling of second wheats is common practice, as take-all levels begin to decline, the risk of primary infection is reduced. The Recommended List trials show second wheat performance which is expected to be a good indicator of take-all tolerance, amongst other things. Syngenta offer 3 of the 7 highest yielding second wheats in GLEAM, SY INSITOR and SHABRAS which all have high yield potential as a second cereal.


If grassweeds are of concern, delayed drilling is highly recommended, and selecting a variety with good Autumn vigour such as SHABRAS to maximise crop competition is preferable. SHABRAS produces a good number of tillers and covers the ground well to help smother grassweeds. Additionally, SHABRAS is relatively early to hit GS 30 which allows it to get above the grassweeds more effectively in spring, adding to its competitive nature. 

SHABRAS: 78% ground cover                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     


Variety K: Hard G4: 68% ground cover                

Ground cover: March 2020, Newark