The value of triticale in the 2nd-3rd cereal position in crop sequences
About this project
Plots of triticale (cv Fidelio) were sown alongside plots of winter wheat and winter barley (cv Consort and Regina respectively), in second or third cereal rotation positions at three sites over three years. Each crop was treated with take-all seed treatments in comparison with standard treatments, in order to monitor any differential response to these in the three crops. The triticale plots were also treated with either a strobilurin-based or triazole-based fungicide programme, in order to assess the response to strobilurins in this relatively disease-resistant crop.
Take-all reached severe levels in only one of the trials (Warwickshire), but here the winter wheat suffered higher levels of this disease than the triticale, and gave larger yield responses to the take-all seed treatments (Latitude and Jockey) than the triticale. However these yield increases did not make up the deficit in yield between these two crops, the triticale, even without a take-all seed treatment, still giving over 1 t/ha higher yield than the best wheat yield.
Trials at the site in Lincolnshire showed winter wheat to be consistently the best crop choice in terms of gross margin, though take-all levels were always low at this site. In the Warwickshire trial in 2000, (in contrast to the above trial in 2002), take-all was absent and wheat was also the most profitable crop.
At the third site (Gloucestershire), on thin brash soils, despite varying take-all levels, winter wheat was not the most profitable crop choice in any of the three years. In 2000, barley was the best choice, whilst in 2001 and 2002 triticale gave the best margins.
Yield responses to strobilurin fungicides in the triticale crop, where noted, were small and in most cases the extra expenditure involved in these was not cost-effective.
The results of this project underline the traditional view of triticale as a better option than wheat on marginal land or where take-all pressure is high. With no take-all, wheat was consistently the better option, but with moderate to high take-all pressure, or light land with low fertility, triticale out-performed wheat. Its true viability as a commercial crop will depend on market opportunities, either attracting a premium or selling at a discount to wheat (in this project triticale grain was priced at the feed wheat value), however if the market can be assured, it will be worthy of consideration as an alternative to wheat in low-yielding second cereal positions.
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