The National Association of British and Irish Millers has been accused at the Cereals Event of getting variety groupings wrong by the seed and variety industry.

Independent variety consultant Richard Fenwick believes that Nabim is sending out confusing messages to growers about varieties and their likely values in the UK market.

“We’ve seen that with Solstice. The premiums being paid for the variety for the last three years have been in the Group 1 league. And it now seems as though the same will happen with Mascot.”

Clare Leaman of NIAB agreed. “It’s hard to know what a variety has got to do to make Group 1. Using Group 2 as a holding pot isn’t the right approach – surely it would be better to have a provisional category.”

Waiting until a variety is proven is not sending out the right signal to plant breeders, she added. “We need more effort to go into the breeding of Group 1s, as there is a shortage of varieties in that grading. But the efforts of the plant breeding companies aren’t being recognised.”

Plant breeders were more condemning. “Nabim is a joke,” said an industry source. “It’s being politically correct, because every miller has a different requirement. But it’s not giving the right guidance to breeders or growers.”

Nabim has said that Solstice and Mascot will be reviewed following this harvest for their suitability to be included in Group 1.