27 November 1998

1999 approvals reflect new and wider criteria

By Andrew Blake

GROWING emphasis on end users needs and input savings, as well as yield, are reflected in the new 1999 Recommended Lists for combinable crop varieties.

A total of 21 new names, each offering an edge over currently recommended varieties, have come through the rigorous trialling system which absorbs a fifth of the HGCAs £5m/yr R&D levy-derived budget and £110,000/yr of PGRO levy cash.

Also new is an economic performance measure for oilseed crops, taking oil content as well as yield into account. The move reflects the added value of oil premiums paid by crushers. For oilseed rape that is worth 1.5% for every 1% increase in oil content over 40% and 1% for every 1% over a threshold of 38% for linseed.

The new economic rating moves hybrid winter rape variety Pronto into top slot alongside top yielder Gemini. Among spring rapes Hyola 330 remains top, as does Oscar linseed.

Another change to list protocol concerns the quality assessment of malting barley. Malt extract potential replaces malting grade in a bid to reflect maltster demands more closely, says NIAB.

Both moves highlight increasing awareness that it is not just growers who depend on the RL system.

Without the lists, producers and the UK industry as a whole would be much worse off, according to Peter Limb, chairman of the HGCAs R&D Advisory Committee.

"Time and again growers say they need independent lists they can use in planning. Dealers, merchants and shippers tell us the same thing." British Cereal Exports uses RL information to promote business abroad, he notes. "Millers, maltsters and increasingly feedstuffs manufacturers are looking for the correct varieties which will deliver the quality and volumes they need," he adds.

Another key function of the lists is to pinpoint varieties requiring lower inputs, says NIABs head of cereals John Ramsbottom. Low prices and a looming pesticide tax mean beleaguered growers have less room for error, he explains. "We need to concentrate on growing for the market, managing inputs carefully and reducing risks as much as possible."

That scenario presents a big challenge to breeders. "They have risen to it magnificently this year. The material they have produced is better than the best and will help the industry move forward."

&#8226 Turn to p64 for our Special Focus on the new varieties.

1999 Recommended Lists

* 21 variety advances.

* Industry-wide benefits.

* Over £1m investment.

* Pulses spend gap.


&#8226 21 variety advances.

&#8226 Industry-wide benefits.

&#8226 Over £1m investment.


&#8226 W wheat: Buchan, Claire, Malacca, Shamrock.

&#8226 W barley: Angela, Flute, Heligan, Pearl.

&#8226 W oats: Kingfisher, Viscount.

&#8226 W osr: Gemini, L-BN 246/21 (Escort).

&#8226 S wheat: Paragon.

&#8226 S barley: Century, Decanter, Static.

&#8226 S oats: Revisor, Winston.

&#8226 S osr: Hyola 330.

&#8226 S beans: Goldrush, Lobo.