Mean yields from the first 11 winter barley variety trials results in the HGCA Recommended List trials are showing a 10% increase over the five-year average.

But more important for growers is the continued impressive performance potential of new malting variety Cassata, while high yielding feed barley Retriever appears to be sliding back towards the pack.

“The high point is that the mean yield is up around 10%,” HGCA’s Peter Hanson reported on Monday [24 July], with 11 of the 27 sites harvested.

Six-row varieties have faired less well so far this season relative to their usual advantage over two-rows.

“It is probably because the results are from southern sites – six-row varieties tend to do relatively better in the north.”

That was illustrated by the candidate hybrid variety Bronx, which, while maintaining its position as top yielding variety, was 4% down on the five-year rolling average.

Conventional six-row RL candidate Pelican was so far matching Bronx for yield at 108% of the controls this season.

Bronx’s consistency across the sites so far had helped it maintain its position, according to independent analyst Richard Fenwick.

Cassata looked like it was also having a good year, he noted. Its 2006 mean was 2% ahead of Flagon and 6% higher than Pearl.

The variety was also performing well in TAG trials, the organisation’s Dave Robinson said.

“It looks quite interesting.

Across the regions it has consistently been 2-4% higher than Flagon and Pearl.”

But two-row feed variety Retriever wasn’t having such a good year.

While its five-year rolling mean remains well ahead of other two-row feeds at 109%, this year’s 104% is equalled by Saffron in the HGCA trials.

“It is a slight disappointment, as much as a variety yielding very well can be a disappointment,” Mr Fenwick said.

Its results had been helped by a strong performance at the BaYMV-susceptible site in Gloucestershire, Mr Hanson said. Its yield there was 19% ahead of susceptible Saffron.

Other susceptible varieties Blythe and Pearl had performed even more poorly.

“It is the first time we’ve had a good yield trial with mosaic virus symptoms.”

In the TAG trials feed barley Carat appeared to have suffered most from the dry conditions, Mr Robinson said.

“As the earliest and shortest variety it seems to have suffered from the lack of moisture.”

Yields varied from 9.5t/ha in good conditions to 8t/ha where moisture stress was a factor.

Data were assembled with care but treat differences below the LSD cautiously. Performance variation is not Crop Evaluation or HGCA’s responsibility. The control is the mean of Pearl, Carat, Cannock, Sequel and Flagon.

Click here for the latest on the HGCA barley trials harvest results

mike.abram@rbi.co.uk