Winter wheat varieties particularly suited to lighter land are among those standing out in the first batch of HGCA Recommended List trials to be harvested this year.

The initial 10 trials harvested, which included three second-wheat sites, tended to be from the earlier ripening sites, HGCA RL manager Bill Handley said.

“Most are from lighter land, although there are a couple from heavier soils in the east.”

The early nature of the sites could be part of the reason why mean yields are so far 0.7t/ha down on the rolling five-year average, he said.

“It is still a bit too early to draw any conclusions about overall yields.”

RAGT Seeds variety Ambrosia was leading the pack, with a mean yield of 111% of the controls compared with its rolling mean of 106%.

Gladiator, Istabraq, Einstein, Deben and Glasgow were also performing above their over-years rating.

“Most of those have been shown to be good on lighter land,” Mr Handley said.

But the most widely grown variety commercially, Robigus, had not had such a good year in RL trials so far, he noted.

In particular it had struggled at the Baumber site in Lincolnshire, which was a second wheat.

“We know it doesn’t do well as a second wheat.”

The other notable variety not performing up to expectation was Gatsby, which was specifically recommended because of its orange wheat blossom midge resistance, he added.

“Nationally, midge was only a sporadic problem this year, so maybe it hasn’t been a major factor.”

Other OWBM resistant varieties, such as the candidate Oakley, had also struggled, although Brompton and Glasgow were having good years.

Three candidate varieties were standing out so far.

“Battalion, Timber and Humber are all doing well, but it is too early to draw any conclusions.

We will have a better picture in a couple of weeks.”

mike.abram@rbi.co.uk