DEMAND FOR the UK‘s leading Group 1 wheat could be waning as growers move increasingly towards new Group 2 varieties, according to a variety expert.

Malacca is considered to be one of the most popular and important varieties in the UK today, with 7% of the certified seed tonnage.

But according to Home-Grown Cereals Authority Recommended List manager Jim McVittie there is “an interesting change” in the popularity of the variety.

“This year there‘s more Hereward seed in the ground than Malacca,” he said. “Malacca‘s being squeezed out.”

Provisional seed area figures show the Malacca area for autumn 2004 planting had fallen, with Hereward and Group 2 varieties rising.

But breeder CPB Twyford denied a downturn in sales of Malacca.

“Malacca will always have steady continuous growth because of its popularity with millers,” said the company‘s Gill Covey.

But sales of CPBT‘s new group 2 Cordiale have been increasing, confirming that the Group 2 varieties are indeed becoming more popular.

Mr McVittie said this is due to farmers trying to achieve increased yields, with Group 2s achieving HGCA Recommended List yield figures of up to 103% in some cases.

He said that farmers are now prepared to risk lower protein levels with Group 2 varieties.

If they cannot reach the 13% protein levels required by the millers in this country then they are still able to export their lower protein grain to countries in southern Europe, such as Spain, Italy and Greece.

“I think growers are struggling to get the protein on Malacca,” said Mr McVittie.

“They‘re either switching back to Hereward or jumping into Einstein and Solstice.”

Millers pay higher premiums for Hereward because of its better breadmaking qualities, especially increased protein levels, he explained.

Although the variety has a 6% lower yield, it is still more profitable if grown properly, added Mr McVittie.

Provisional certified seed area figures show Malacca has 5% of the total, Hereward 6.1%, Einstein 9.5% and Solstice 7.3%.

In 2003, the figures were 6.8%, 4.9%, 6.3% and 7% respectively.