Candidate winter barley varieties appear to be lagging behind the more established favourites as the HGCA releases its provisional Recommended List harvest results.

Blazing has given a lacklustre performance so far with the lowest treated yield in the malting camp at 93% of controls, says RL consultant Peter Hanson. “It will have to come up with some good results soon if it is going to progress any further.”

North Yorkshire and Suffolk sites have given the poorest returns, achieving just 85% of the control yields, but results from a third of the sites are yet to come in, he notes.

Pearl, Winsome and Purdey are all yielding as expected with no more than a 1% deviation from their five-year averages. “We haven’t got any quality data yet, but it’s been a low disease year and there shouldn’t be too many problems.”

Control variety Flagon has impressed with a treated yield of 98%, two percent higher than its five-year mean, he says. “It’s possibly because it copes well with drought stress and the lodging risk has been low this season; Flagon has fairly weak straw, so this can be a problem in wetter seasons.”

Mosaic virus-resistant Cassata returned slightly disappointing yields, down 2% on the five-year mean at 95%. “We don’t know why, it just isn’t performing very well.”

Retriever is sitting at the top of the two-row feed sector with a mean of 109, but it’s only in core trials and has results from five of the eight sites in so far. “Straw is not it’s strong point, so the weather will have helped prevent lodging.”

Despite low disease pressure, rhynchosporium-susceptible Saffron and Cassia are both giving low returns, dropping 2% apiece off the five-year average at 98% and 101%, respectively. Suzuka is up 1% on the average at 101%, but is also only in core trails, he adds.

After being omitted last year due to seed contamination, six-row Volume is equalling it’s average at 109% of controls, but the six-row hybrid candidate Element is not having a particularly good year.

Although crops looked stressed earlier in the season the overall average, 9.14t/ha, is up significantly over the five-year mean of 8.89t/ha and last year’s 8.8t/ha, he says. “Winter barley could be doing well because most crops finished grain filling before the main drought hit.”