A Bull of a Wheat Crop: PAN 3497 at Waldie Bornman, Orania.5 January 2022

By Andre du Toit, Wheat Breeder for Pannar, 082 550 6019 |

Waldie Bornman shared this bull wheat crop that he harvested on 14 December 2021, near Orania. The cultivar PAN 3497 was planted on 31 May 2021. Waldie aimed for 55kg of seed per hectare, but eventually finished with an average of 53kg/ha. His average yield was 12.1 tons/ha – a fantastic yield!

PAN 3497 is a spring-type wheat cultivar and is considered a medium-late cultivar. With its somewhat longer growth period, it is more suitable for early plantings. Pannar's high-yield potential spring-type irrigation cultivars are divided into four growth classes, namely medium-late, medium, medium-early and early. The package consists of PAN 3497, PAN 3541, PAN 3400 and PAN 3644.

If Pannar's spring-type wheat cultivars are planted early in the recommended planting window, it can be planted at a lower sowing density with good results as shown by Waldie. Usually, 60 – 80kg seed per hectare is recommended for early planting dates under irrigation to exploit the cultivar’s maximum potential. Together with a good seedbed, 120 to 180 plants per square meter should develop, at a germination percentage of 90%. The reduced plant population benefits a cultivar's stooling capacity and provides several benefits to the producer. If the planting date occurs later in the recommended planting window, 90 kg of seed per hectare is recommended.

The obvious advantage is a reduction in seed costs per hectare. The second benefit is the potential increase in yield. At a lower seed density, there is less competition in the row between plants. This enables each individual plant to reach its full stooling capacity. As a result, the stronger plants can form better and deeper roots and each “plant factory” develops a larger storage capacity that can be used for grain filling later in the season. During each plant's stooling phase, primary, secondary and tertiary seed heads are formed. The different seed heads develop at different times and do not flower at the same time. By developing in this way, the plant has a built-in buffer against once-off cold damage and protects the yields. During a late, short period of cold only certain seed heads are damaged and those that escape the cold develop normally. At a lower seeding density, plants can evade cold to a larger extent. The seed heads of the plants that are not damaged can compensate for the loss of yield from the seed heads that got damaged by a cold spell.

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