Spring wheat vs. spring barley

Serup

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Denmark
How common is spring wheat in the UK?
In Denmark it is almost non existant.

I have to grow a lot of spring crops, because of cover crops.
I can use wheat to feed my cows. Barley we would rather not feed in these amounts.

My history with growing barley to malting specification, is not impressive. Feed barley for sale is not desireable, because of the economics associated with it.
So i was wondering how the costs, yields and obstacles of growing spring wheat is looking.
 

Flat 10

Member
Location
Fen Edge
How common is spring wheat in the UK?
In Denmark it is almost non existant.

I have to grow a lot of spring crops, because of cover crops.
I can use wheat to feed my cows. Barley we would rather not feed in these amounts.

My history with growing barley to malting specification, is not impressive. Feed barley for sale is not desireable, because of the economics associated with it.
So i was wondering how the costs, yields and obstacles of growing spring wheat is looking.
Why don’t you feed barley? Surely it’s better than wheat? Not masses of spring wheat grown here either.
 

Serup

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Denmark
Barley is worth more than wheat? In the uk there is a massive discount currently, ~£40/t or it costs more to treat barley than wheat?
This past year, barley has been priced significantly lower than wheat. Even malting barley is lower than wheat at the moment. Last harvest i could get 1030 DKr/ton for feed barley and 1270 DKr/ton of feed wheat. Malting premium has been between 50 and 150 DKr/ton i 2020 and for the comming season.

I can treat wheat (and rye) with 3% soda, barley need 5%. It cost almost 10£/ton for every percent.
 

EddieB

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Staffs
I haven’t grown many crops of spring wheat, but the yields on my light land have always been disappointing. I have found that February drilled winter wheat has outperformed spring wheat. I still occasionally grow it on a seed contract if the premium is high enough. I don’t think that it’s a hugely popular crop here in the UK.
 

Spencer

Member
Location
North West
How common is spring wheat in the UK?
In Denmark it is almost non existant.

I have to grow a lot of spring crops, because of cover crops.
I can use wheat to feed my cows. Barley we would rather not feed in these amounts.

My history with growing barley to malting specification, is not impressive. Feed barley for sale is not desireable, because of the economics associated with it.
So i was wondering how the costs, yields and obstacles of growing spring wheat is looking.
What other spring crops do you grow?
 

Al R

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
West Wales
Spring wheat needs to be in the ground as early as possible and done in reasonable conditions. It can get very leggy and require sensible PGR use. How it yields seemed to vary according to the season IMO.
I’ve put spring wheat in up to mid April before and it was still better than WW, al be it late September combining but it did have everything including the kitchen sink thrown at it every year.
Sow it thick if March/April sowing, 250kg/ha ideally as it doesn’t tiller the same as WW. 2-3 doses of N - or up to your maximum allowed then. I used to grow a few hundred acres every year, never got drilling until mid-late March at the earliest
 
I’ve put spring wheat in up to mid April before and it was still better than WW, al be it late September combining but it did have everything including the kitchen sink thrown at it every year.
Sow it thick if March/April sowing, 250kg/ha ideally as it doesn’t tiller the same as WW. 2-3 doses of N - or up to your maximum allowed then. I used to grow a few hundred acres every year, never got drilling until mid-late March at the earliest

Fair play to you, all the times I have seen spring wheat later than about the middle of March around here it has been poor- the dry weather sets in and you just see it staggering from one growth stage to the next. Done earlier, the root system is a lot more extensive and it seems better able to deal with dry summer months? This is why I always said to customers you need to be getting on with it and the old hands used to chuckle that I had customers who rarely, if ever, got it drilled in February.

I agree it needs a high seed rate and a sensible N and fungicide regime, it's not a one spray wonder like spring barley. Done right, it used to grow serious yields of wholecrop for some people.
 

Brisel

Member
NFFN Member
Location
North Yorkshire
We grew both spring barley and spring wheat here last year. I'd rather not grow either on clay soils but we couldn't get the winter cereals all done in 2019 nor autumn 2020 so both will be grown again.

Spring wheat had a gross margin £250/ha higher than barley in 2020. Same 6.5 t/ha yield, but a £45/t price difference.

Wheat vs barley
180 kg/ha N vs 160 kg/ha N (not seeking malting or milling)
W had slightly higher spray costs, mostly PGR and a bit more fungicide. Same herbicides mostly.
W had a higher seed rate as it tillers less Edit: Similar kg/ha seed rate used here, having looked up the records
Both planted at the same time followed by a 3 month drought
The spring wheat matured in mid September and the barley matured 3 weeks earlier.

Thanks to June rains, all the spring wheat got ergot so made feed grade by blending away. Ergot is mostly down to wet weather at ear emergence to flowering and there is little you can do about it, though the old boys swear that applying copper can help.
 
Last edited:

Al R

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
West Wales
We grew both spring barley and spring wheat here last year. I'd rather not grow either on clay soils but we couldn't get the winter cereals all done in 2019 nor autumn 2020 so both will be grown again.

Spring wheat had a gross margin £250/ha higher than barley in 2020. Same 6.5 t/ha yield, but a £45/t price difference.

Wheat vs barley
180 kg/ha N vs 160 kg/ha N (not seeking malting or milling)
W had slightly higher spray costs, mostly PGR and a bit more fungicide. Same herbicides mostly.
W had a higher seed rate as it tillers less
Both planted at the same time followed by a 3 month drought
The spring wheat matured in mid September and the barley matured 3 weeks earlier.

Thanks to June rains, all the spring wheat got ergot so made feed grade by blending away. Ergot is mostly down to wet weather at ear emergence to flowering and there is little you can do about it, though the old boys swear that applying copper can help.
What seed rate on the wheat? I always found sowing thicker you could pile on the N - 175units and only have to use 1 PGR usually, it would be that thick it wasn’t easy to walk through. It was grown after beet mainly where as barley would just go flat (like a steam roller flat) across the whole field 2-3 weeks pre combining regardless of how much PGR went on, the Wheat would stick it post beet growing, often doing around 4t/acre grain at 80kg/hl and around 2.5t/acre straw!
 

Brisel

Member
NFFN Member
Location
North Yorkshire
What seed rate on the wheat? I always found sowing thicker you could pile on the N - 175units and only have to use 1 PGR usually, it would be that thick it wasn’t easy to walk through. It was grown after beet mainly where as barley would just go flat (like a steam roller flat) across the whole field 2-3 weeks pre combining regardless of how much PGR went on, the Wheat would stick it post beet growing, often doing around 4t/acre grain at 80kg/hl and around 2.5t/acre straw!

I wasn't here then, but the records actually show roughly the same kg/ha at 210-220 for both, though a few more seeds/m2 on the barley I would imagine if the TGW was lower. Mulika wheat & Laureate barley.
 

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