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What is Sowing for Peak Performance?

Sowing for Peak Performance is an initiative from KWS that goes beyond the information you glean from the Recommended List.

Sowing for Peak Performance will help you consider the unique factors affecting variety performance on your farm to ensure you choose the right varieties to optimise performance and maximise your return on investment.

Sowing for Peak Performance will highlight the value that plant genetics can now play in variety selection as many factors are heavily influenced… and even fixed by variety choice.

Why do we need Sowing for Peak Performance?

1. The breadth of chemical crop protection options are disappearing fast either because of legislation or declining effectiveness. The chemistry that remains, and new chemical introductions, will be increasingly exposed to a build-up of resistance.

The loss of the less expensive, older chemistry will mean an increase in input costs and a rise in the cost of production.

2. There is growing pressure to find sustainable ‘green’ and cost-effective solutions. Variety genetics are continually improving and will play an ever-increasing role in sustainable crop production.

3. Diseases are becoming more aggressive and a wetter, milder climate means diseases are active for more of the growing season. Making good use of a plant’s natural resistance to keep crops clean of disease and protect yield potential will become central to how you manage crops efficiently and effectively.

4. Seed represents a very minor cost of production when compared with other costs such as chemical, labour and fuel. When a variety’s potential is fully exploited, the return on investment will outperform that of any other input.

5. Many farmers focus on yield without considering the management attributes that define a variety’s character. Consequently, you may fail to make the most of the variety’s full potential.

Realise the Potential

We appreciate every farm is unique and every farm business has differing goals, meaning variety choice is highly personal. Maximum output potential and profitability can only be achieved when you consider a broad range of factors which can include for example:

  • rotational position
  • soil type
  • desired chemical spend
  • local markets
  • personal experience

Only when all of this information is considered and potential varieties analysed against your unique farm situation can peak performance from varieties be achieved.


Once the seed is sown, many variety attributes are fixed – and can’t be changed. It pays for you and your agronomist to know what they are and make pro-active choices before ordering a variety. Otherwise you may end up reacting to problems after sowing which could potentially have been prevented had you ordered the optimum variety for your growing conditions.


Taking the time to evaluate a variety will highlight how many attributes are fixed at sowing and how these will influence production factors such as input spend, workload scheduling and future rotations. Proactive variety selection will pay off at sowing, during the growing season and at harvest, all helping to improve gross margin.


In addition to the agronomic and management attributes used for variety selection, Sowing for Peak Performance encourages you to consider the marketability and the inherent “value of the variety”. Much of this detail cannot be derived from the Recommended List alone. It is characterised by the unique genetic combinations helping varieties to perform in specific circumstances. What’s more, The Recommended List is not a “live document”. There are often updates on varieties from actual market requirements and further insight is provided as the end users feedback from the previous harvest.

How important is variety choice?

Variety Attributes either heavily influenced or fixed at sowing

  • Drilling window
  • Yield potential
  • Disease and pest resistance
  • Rotational performance
  • Local market
  • Regional performance
  • Straw stiffness & standing power
  • Harvest timing
  • Fixed price/futures selling strategy
  • Grain quality

Variety attributes that can be influenced after sowing

  • Final nitrogen strategy
  • Final chemical spend
  • Spot marketing strategy

It’s a simple truth that 80% of the potential crop production you are likely to see is in-built in the seed you drill.

You can influence it to a degree by good management, how much nitrogen you apply and the standard of your agronomy, but fundamentally what you will get from a yield and quality perspective is locked in when you make that variety decision.

The graphic below is designed to advise you on our wider portfolio of wheats and when each variety should be sown to achieve its optimum performance.

The bars indicate each wheat optimum drilling time, where orange represents the variety's Sowing for Peak Performance period and greys shows the full window of suitable sowing times.

Variety choice can be made early

The vast amount of variety data is available from June which includes all historical performance data plus the crop feedback from the current year (the RL, harvest results, input expenditure)… so there’s no reason to delay variety choice. You and your agronomist have the time to make far more informed and therefore, better variety choices. If you feel the current year’s results are needed for reference, then these are available around mid-August, just after harvest, allowing for variety choices to be revised if you need to.

Sowing for Peak Performance is an initiative that encourages farmers to thoroughly analyse potential varieties for their farm in the context of their unique situation to help optimise gross margin and sustainability. No farmer should order a variety without considering the principles of Sowing for Peak Performance.

So how can SPP help me today?

Savings in:

  • Time management
  • Machine hours
  • Fungicides
  • Herbicides
  • Insecticides
  • Diesel

Benefits to you:

  • Better plant health
  • Improved soil quality
  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Increased output = extra tonnes
  • Higher chance of better quality to attain premiums on offer

Your consultants

Kirsty Richards
Kirsty Richards
Conventional Crops Product Manager
Tel.: 07748 960726
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