Winter wheats in this season’s HGCA Recommended List trials are yielding especially well – more than 8% up on the five-year average.

“That’s quite remarkable,” says RL manager Jim McVittie. However by Tuesday, results from over half the 28 trials were still to come and two second wheat sites had been abandoned.

Second wheat variety trials performance is often variable because of take-all, adds Dr McVittie. “But the information may be useful as an aggregate, and this year there seem to be some big differences between varieties.”

Hereford, for example, which wasn’t recommended last year but which was believed to be useful in the second wheat slot seems to be confirming that – indeed at Bury St Edmunds producing the top yield of any variety anywhere so far.

Among the latest contenders for recommendation, three potential Group 2 varieties – Gallant, Ketchum and Walpole – are all yielding above marker variety Einstein, notes Dr McVittie.

“If they are confirmed as Group 2s, they all look very interesting.”

The fourth newcomer in that category, Qplus, is lower yielding, but is the first potential milling wheat with orange blossom midge resistance, he points out.

In the battle between Group 3 potential biscuit-making varieties, Viscount is yielding marginally more than Cassius and Scout.

“But we still need to find out if the millers really rate these as Group 3s.” Their output is below Group 4 feed varieties Oakley, Duxford and JB Diego.

If they don’t qualify as Group 3s, Viscount might just make the list as a feed, and it’s possible that along with Cassius it might be useful for distilling, he says.

Of the pure feed contenders Conqueror is doing well, apart from at one second wheat site, Bury St Edmunds.

However, it is only on a par with the already recommended top Group 4s, he notes.

The extremely variable results from Devon, where there were uncontrollable levels of Septoria tritici, highlight the impact of disease.

Timber with its good resistance, as expected, yielded well. But it is harder to explain the relatively good results from Glasgow and newcomer Grafton there, says Dr McVittie.