UK CEREAL growers have sown nearly as much winter wheat as they did last season. But much more nabim Group 2 wheat has gone in, mainly at the expense of Group 1 bread-making varieties, according to Dalgety’s certified seed sales.

Despite the difficult harvest, most growers got the seed they required, helping them put nearly one-quarter of the UK’s 2m ha (4.9m acres) of winter wheat into Group 2 types, says national seed manager Barry Barker.

That continues a trend with the Group 1’s share slipping from 17% in harvest 2003 to an expected 11.5% for next summer.

The key reason is a dearth of new high-yielding Group 1 material, Mr Barker believes. “Malacca is falling away as it doesn’t always deliver the quality growers are looking for.”

An expected rise in demand for Hereward outside its south and west “hot bed” failed to occur as growers turned to higher-yielding Group 2 alternatives like Einstein.

Sales of Xi19 picked up for post-root crop sowings, but still account for only 2% of the overall market, he says.

By contrast, Einstein has more than doubled its last season share to 14%, second only to Group 3 Robigus which took nearly 17%. “Einstein is a great success. Its quality is not quite as good as Solstice’s, but it is perfectly acceptable and it will be around for a long time.”

Group 2 Cordiale’s earliness is appreciated in the north, he says. After trade concern that supplies of number one seller Robigus might run out there was just about enough. “If there had been ample stocks we might have had another 2% in. “It yielded and stood well and yellow rust wasn”t a problem. There’s also its suggested midge resistance.”

In Scotland, Robigus accounts for 30% of the firm’s wheat seed sales where it is ousting Consort.

Indeed, the combined share of Consort and Claire, the latter particularly popular as a southern first wheat, is only just over 20%. Last year together they covered more than one-third of the UK area.

Among many varieties in the high yielding Group 4 feed sector, newcomer Gladiator is marginally most popular, closely followed by Napier and Istabraq.