Changes to the way that the winter Recommended List is published are being discussed, with a new look planned for later this year.
Two separate lists, one for the north region and the other for the east and west region, will be published in the future, says Jim McVittie of Crop Evaluation, who leads the RL team.
“We’re now seeing huge differences in the performance of varieties according to where they are grown,” he says. “This is largely due to the fact that light leaf spot is getting so much worse in the north.”
Dr McVittie illustrates this point with the performance of two popular varieties, Castille and Catana. “Castille has been at the top of the list and has really done well in the east and west region, but it doesn’t perform at the same level in the north.
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“In contrast, Catana has been brilliant in the north, but as it only has a 4 for stem canker, growers in the east and west would quite rightly be wary of it.”
This means that the UK recommendation would no longer exist, he confirms.
The RL team is also considering the introduction of separate targets for conventional and hybrid varieties. “The hybrids are pulling ahead in terms of yield now, but they still only represent between 5 and 10% of the crop area.
“Having separate targets for them would allow growers to compare varieties more easily and choose from the group which most appeals to their situation.”
Another RL development will be a specific recommendation for the semi-dwarf hybrid varieties, he notes.
“Growers are interested in these types, but the current system doesn’t allow them to be included. They have harvesting and lodging advantages, but tend to have a lower gross output.”