Norwegian cereal varieties in Finland

Popular Graminor varieties have been tested at Yara’s research farm Kotkaniemi outside Helsinki. The results show that fertiliser application and cultivation strategies work differently in Finland and Norway.

Graminor has had considerable success in recent years in the Finnish market. Norwegian-bred cereal varieties are now cultivated on 160,000 hectares in Finland, a larger area than in the home market in Norway. This is due to an increasing market share and the fact that the land devoted to cereal production in Finland is significantly larger in Finland than in Norway. Kesko is the representative of Graminor cereal varieties in Finland.

 “Finland is a very exciting and important market for us. It is therefore useful to be able to supplement the official evaluation trials with tests that give further information on how our varieties perform under Finnish conditions,” says Hans Jacob Lund, Product Manager in Graminor.

High Yields

The tests this year included the wheat varieties Mirakel and Demonstrant, the barley varieties Brage and Ragna, and the oats varieties Ringsaker and Avetron. The Norwegian varieties produced good yields in the trials fields at Kotkaniemi, which is located 30 km northwest of Helsinki. Of the wheat varieties, Demonstrant gave a slightly higher yield than Mirakel. “Demonstrant has done very well in Finland and has become a big variety in the country. The Finns often have dry early summers, which was also the case in 2016, and Demonstrant does well under such conditions,” explains wheat breeder Jon Arne Dieseth in Graminor. Mirakel, which has become very popular in Norway due to its good baking quality has not achieved the same breakthrough in Finland, where the requirements of protein and baking quality are not as high.

The barley yields were particularly noticeable at Kotkaniemi this year, and in this case Brage did much better than Ragna. Ragna is not cultivated in Norge, but is quite widespread in Finland. Brage is a big variety in both countries.In the oats fields Ringsaker gave a higher yield than Avetron. The early oats variety Avetron, which is not cultivated in Norway, is well liked by the Finns due to its good quality, stable yield and reliable harvesting.

Little response to split fertiliser application

At Kotkaniemi the varieties were tested with various different fertiliser regimes. In one series all fertiliser was applied on sowing in the spring, while in another series split fertiliser application was used. The Norwegian varieties responded by giving a higher yield with higher nitrogen quantities in all of the trials.“The response to the fertiliser level is very clear,” says Stein Bergersen, who is responsible for breeding barley varieties in Graminor. The yields in Brage barley, for example, were respectively 634, 777 and 820 kg/da. on 9, 13 and 15 kg N/da.

Further, there was no yield response on split fertiliser application for either barley or oats. In this case the yields were actually higher when all the fertiliser was applied when sowing. Another surprising result, from a Norwegian viewpoint, was that fertiliser application on a late section gave a higher yield than application on an early section in the split application tests.

“This is the opposite of what we would normally expect. It is difficult to say what the reason is, but it may be to do with the timing of rainfall and how the fertiliser dissolves,” believes Bergersen. The tendency was not as clear in the spring wheat. In this case split fertiliser application had an impact on yield for the variety Demonstrant, while there were small differences for Mirakel.

 “It is natural that split fertiliser application has a greater impact on yield in wheat compared to barley. While barley is dependent on a high level of nutrient provision early in growth, wheat takes up nutrients over a longer period,” says Dieseth. He adds that split fertiliser application may be less interesting in Finland because the requirements as to protein content in food wheat are not as strict as in Norway, and because the Finns use a lot of wheat for feed and other purposes.

Local fertiliser strategies

The agronomist Anders Rognlien in Yara says the trials disclose different cultivation conditions in Finland and Norway and illustrate how important it is to take account of local conditions.

 “The type of soil is relevant here. There is less wash-out on the heavy clay in Finland than in Norway. Therefore, the Finns do not have the same reason for split fertiliser application as we have in Norway. With the Finnish soil types, it may be important to apply all the fertiliser in the spring. This shows that it is not necessarily correct to transfer fertiliser application concepts from one country to another,” says Rognlien. He adds, however, that split fertiliser application has an environmental aspect in that the quantity of fertiliser can be better suited to the growth season and expected yield level.

Would like more varieties“This is something that is important for us plant breeders to understand. We obtain more knowledge about the Finnish conditions, and also how our varieties should be cultivated under these conditions,” says Lund, Product Manager in Graminor.

The plant breeders in Graminor would like more Norwegian varieties to be included in similar trials in the future. “The conditions for cultivating oats are very similar in Norway and Finland, and for me it is important to try several varieties, among other reasons to see how new lines do against both Norwegian and other market varieties. With oats, straw strength is very important and fertiliser application trials are also interesting in this respect,” says Trond Buraas, who is responsible for oats breeding in Graminor. Buraas says fertiliser application is very dependent on the type of soil, and he does not recommend as much as 15 kg N/da. for oats, even though it gave the highest yield in Finland. In Graminor’s trial at Hedmarken around 10 kg N/da. was used.

The Graminor breeders say that their wish to have more varieties in the Finnish trials is of course a question of cost and what is practically possible.

 “The main point is to try our varieties in Finland with the aim to use them there. Even though it is largely the same varieties that are used in both Norway and Finland, we cannot directly transfer the results from Norwegian conditions. With these trials we are able to confirm our variety information,” adds Bergersen.

 Rognlien in Yara says the trials partnership with Graminor offers exciting perspectives, and adds that Yara wishes to develop Nordic cooperation in which the main companies involved in plant production support one another.