20 September 1996

Average yields bettered

MOST of the 30 winter wheat varieties in NIAB trials echoed commercial results this harvest by bettering their long-term average yields – some by quite large margins. But the latest issue of Varplan 97 shows four performing significantly worse.

Average yield of the 14 trials harvested by the time of publication (Sept 10) was 9.71t/ha (3.87t/ acre). That compares with the long-term average of 9.62t/ha (3.83t/acre) for 169 trials from 1992 to 1996.

But this years mean masks some big differences – from 6 to 12.4t/ha (2.39 to 4.94t/acre) according to moisture availability, notes NIABs Richard Fenwick.

Beaufort and Caxton were up five and four points, respectively, on their five-year means, relative to the controls. Rialto and Soissons were three points up.

Other varieties apparently appreciating the seasons conditions with mean yields two points ahead of their five-year averages were Hunter and Dynamo and the two candidate varieties, Abbot and Equinox.

Varieties doing less well than normal were Brigadier and Cadenza, two points down on their five-year means. So, too, were Madrigal, another candidate for this autumn, and Chianti, which failed to reach the list last year but remained in trials.

Mr Fenwick says it is hard to pinpoint the precise reasons for the relative changes in performance. "But Brigadier has shown more variability than in other years, and some growers have said it has had a lot of whiteheads, maybe caused by fusarium."

This is the second year that Cadenza has given lower than expected yields. But all the trials were sown at the end of September or early October, he notes. "It is better later drilled." &#42