5 April 1996

Breeder baulks at wheat exclusion

LODGING assessments in new wheat varieties are under the spotlight as a leading breeder appeals against the exclusion of its latest offering from the 1996 Recommended List.

Speaking at a presentation of CPB Twyford wares following the firms recent sale to a consortium of continental breeders, technical director John Blackman highlighted the competitive yields achieved by the winter wheat Chianti – even after lodging.

With growth regulators widely and regularly used he questioned the relevance of NIAB standing power ratings derived solely from untreated trials.

Failed listing

Brigadier and Hunter are rated 7 and Riband merits 8. Chianti failed to be listed after it was given a 5 rating, said Mr Blackman. "The perception is that it goes flat." But out of 52 treated NL, RL and BSPB trials Chianti lodged only twice, he claimed.

At Stonehaven in Scotland last year where a treated plot was 50% lodged after torrential rain, the variety still gave 120% of the control yield, he noted. Brigadier, by comparison, was only 12.5% lodged yet gave only 102%.

Commercial manager Andrew Newby said Chiantis grain quality made it highly exportable. In NIABs south-east region it shows a 2% yield edge over Brigadier, making it the only real choice for growers with an eye on blended exports, he said.

&#8226 The outcome of CPB Twyfords formal appeal against the Recommended List decision is still awaited.

NIABs Richard Fenwick says there is a growing trend for breeders to question such decisions, but believes this is the first time a formal appeal has involved lodging.

"The relevance of using untreated trials is that they identify the genetic risk of using a variety." The committee making the original decision on Chianti said no because its members were very worried about its inherently weak straw.

"You need to know the backstop," says Mr Fenwick.