Lagan grower tops UFU winter wheat cereals competition

Victoria Scott, UFU Lagan group manager and UFU cereals competition winner, Tom Hayes.
Victoria Scott, UFU Lagan group manager and UFU cereals competition winner, Tom Hayes.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union along with Syngenta Crop Protection, sponsors of the UFU Cereals Winter Wheat category, have crowned Tom Hayes of UFU Lagan Group as this year’s winner in the winter wheat category with his field of Avatar topping the judges score sheets.

William Russell of UFU North Tyrone group was awarded a close second place, with his field of Leeds variety winter wheat impressing the judges. A highly regarded third place was allocated to UFU Donard group member James Carson.

Tom has entered the UFU cereals competition on several occasions; however, he was delighted to hear that this year he had been selected as winner of the winter wheat cereals category.

Commenting on disease pressure Tom said: “Thanks to a substantial spray programme which covers all aspects of crop disease the pressure of disease was no worse than any other year. Although spray programmes often prove expensive, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to growing crops.”

Tom continued: “The poor weather conditions and wet spring have lead to a later harvest than what would have been expected. Hopefully harvesting will begin in the coming weeks with potential for a good yield of approximately four tonnes per acre.”

On behalf of the competition judges Robin Bolton (DARD) said: “I would like to congratulate all growers who made it to the final of this year’s UFU cereals competition. In total 16 fields across the province were judged and again this year the standard of entries was exceptionally high with only a few points separating the winning fields. Although a poor spring lead to complications during the growing season yield potential looks to be high with many farmers beginning harvesting in the coming weeks.”

UFU deputy president Ivor Ferguson said the Union’s cereal competitions continue to promote excellence in the industry. He said: “Each year the UFU Cereals Competition goes from strength to strength and this year was no exception with an impressive level of entries received for the winter wheat category.

“Once again our cereal growers have excelled despite a difficult season. The standard of winter wheat crops grown across Northern Ireland, and in particular the top entries to our competition, is a testament to the expertise we have in our arable industry.

“We have short listed crops from as far apart as North West Derry and the Ards Peninsula which is very encouraging.

“I particularly want to thank Syngenta Crop Protection who continue to enthusiastically support and promote our cereal competitions, the competition judges, our group managers who co-ordinate the local competitions, and the many UFU members who entered this year’s winter wheat competition.”

The awards for the winter barley, oats, winter wheat and spring barely cereal competition categories will be officially presented at the 2015 UFU Cereal Competition Lunch hosted by the sponsors later this year.