20 June 1997

Brigadier controversy

DISEASE fears are causing a grower backlash against the most widely grown winter wheat in the UK. But finding a replacement is not easy.

Many farmers are cutting their area of Brigadier, or dropping it altogether, says Bill Clark, ADASs national cereal pathologist. "All visitors at Cereals 97 wanted to talk about is what they were going to plant instead."

Many eastern growers have said they will never grow the variety again, he adds. "The explosion of yellow rust in Brigadier this year, added to the eyespot problems over the past two seasons, is the final nail in the coffin. As a long term variety, it is not sustainable."

Most other established feed varieties are prone to yellow rust, adds Mr Clark. Newcomer Equinox looks a good bet for a couple of seasons, he believes.

"There is a question mark over its susceptibility to the new 6/9/17 race. But the variety could get growers through the next two or three years in the hope of a more obvious replacement."

Equinoxs Brigadier-type yield and stiff straw will attract growers, says Mr Fenwick. "But seed could be limited, so growers will need to place a seed order early. Those who want to be really safe could grow Buster. But it its yield is 3% below Brigadiers."