Group 3 wheat varieties will command a premium in excess of £10/t this harvest, variety consultant Mike Jeffes predicted at Cereals 2008.
“The clever money is in the Group 3s,” he said. “They are looking like a better deal than anything else.”
Mr Jeffes based his predictions on supply and demand. “Last year, 28% of the UK wheat area was in Group 3 varieties, which gave us almost 4m tonnes of soft, biscuit wheat,” he said. “And premiums reached £10/t.”
This year, the swing to Group 4 hard feed wheats had been mainly at the expense of Group 3s, he pointed out. “We’re going to have only 3m tonnes of Group 3 wheat. Premiums are bound to rise.”
Syngenta’s Robert Hiles claims Volume takes yields to a new level
Viscount, the much-talked-about Group 3 candidate variety, has already sold out, confirmed seed trade sources. “It’s all done now,” said Lee Bennett of Grainfarmers. “It will be the single biggest variety next year.”
Dave Robinson of TAG and Barry Barker of Masstock echoed this view. “It’s head and shoulders above everything else and there’s a market waiting for it,” he said.
Other Group 3 choices include Robigus, Zebedee, Claire and another candidate variety, Cassius.
“We need to get another year from Robigus,” said Mr Bennett. “It’s looking shocking this season, so the new ones are eagerly awaited.”
He said he had high hopes for Scout, which is up for recommendation this autumn alongside Viscount and Cassius. “It may be a good second wheat and it has looked the cleanest all season.”
The Group 4 candidates did not have as much to offer, he added. “They’re in a tough category. There are already some good varieties in there.”
Conqueror needed high levels of inputs, he said. “It’s a dirty variety. The others are a mixed bag. Lear is too tall and Shogun looks good, but may not have enough yield to make it.”
After struggling on the yield front in 2007, Shogun needs to have a good year
to build on 2006’s strong showing, says Chris Black of RAGT Seeds
Chris Black of RAGT Seeds accepted that Shogun needed to have a good year. “Like many wheat varieties, it didn’t do as well last year. But 2006 performance was very good and it’s an early maturing type, which is needed for today’s rotations.”
Mr Jeffes singled out Grafton as the dark horse of the Group 4s. “We need an early driller and this one looks like it will be one. It’s got very stiff straw, good eyespot resistance and it’s slow to develop.”
Limerick, a potential Group 2 winter wheat that was withdrawn from RL trials last year, is available through Grainfarmers for autumn 2008 drillings.
“The decision on Limerick was deferred in 2007 because the milling samples were poor,” said Lee Bennett of Grainfarmers. “But it’s been resown in the eastern region this year, so may yet make the Recommended List.”
Limerick offered Einstein-level yields with the agronomic advantages of short, stiff straw, good disease resistance and suitability for early sowing, he added.
“There is interest in it from a national miller, so we’re very comfortable with selling it to growers. It meets our aim of bridging the gap between the farmer and the food processor.”
Syngenta’s candidate winter barley, Volume, combines the core attributes of hybrid barleys with higher yields, better grain quality and good disease resistance, said the company’s head of cereals, Robert Hiles.
Up for recommendation this autumn, Volume is a six-row hybrid with the highest yield of 112, putting it 12% ahead of the control varieties and making it an obvious choice for feed barley growers, he said.
“The core attributes of all hybrid barleys are high yields, vigorous growth and early maturity,” added Mr Hiles. “Volume has all of these, but it also takes yields to a new level and has a grain specific weight of 68.4kg/hl.”
Volume’s disease resistance ratings include 8 for rhynchosporium and net blotch and 7 for brown rust and resistance to barley yellow mosaic virus, he said. “It’s also a stiff variety and is a similar height to Sequel.”
Nitrogen and fungicide use should be the same as for a conventional variety, advised Mr Hiles. “The only additional cost is with the seed, which will be £80/ha rather than £60/ha for a conventional barley. But the extra yield more than compensates for this.”
Some 500t of seed will be available for this autumn, ahead of the recommendation decision, said Mr Hiles. “There’s enough for 5000ha and we expect it to appeal to existing hybrid growers, who have seen the advantages of these types for themselves.”
Both of the winter malting barley candidates, Daybreak and Jungle, have already been dismissed by brewers and maltsters.
That means the winter barley candidate list has been shortened to just three varieties, all of which are six-row feed types. Of these, Volume leads the way with a yield of 112, followed by Karioka at 109 and Leibniz at 108.
Syngenta’s spring malting barley candidate, Forensic, won’t be available to growers until 2010, said Mr Hiles.