Cool summer sets up an impressive yield for Norfolk seed grower


A cool summer which meant many crops avoided the heat stress of last season has helped Norfolk farmer David Hill to record a surprisingly satisfying harvest.

Based in the Swaffham area of mid-Norfolk the land is light and moisture often in short supply so while crops often mature early, performance can be variable.

“This season will be remembered as one of the better ones. We enjoyed a cooler May and June than we have become used to and the better-than-average performance is largely down to this period of more favourable weather,” says Mr Hill.

His crop of KWS Siskin grown for seed yielded a conservative 12.5t/ha from 30 hectares while some commercial KWS Siskin sown after November-lifted sugar beet produced a still impressive 11t/ha.

“It’s been a good season. The KWS Siskin was so easy to manage that all our wheat next season will be a commercial crop of the variety as we will not have any wheat for seed. It has been reassuringly consistent for us, so I see no reason to change,” he adds.

The farm has a long history of growing crops for seed and with a flexible rotation based around winter wheat, winter barley, oilseed rape, peas, sugar beet and grass seed and with little to now second cereals in the rotation, performance is generally better than the national average.

Also grown for seed in 2019 was a new two-row winter barley from KWS. A candidate for recommendation this winter, KWS Patriot yielded between 9.9 and 12.5t/ha depending on the field.

“It had muck ahead of drilling and irrigation when it was available and with yields like that, I don’t know why people bugger about with six-rows when two-rows do this well,” says Mr Hill.

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