18 September 1998

Consort takes top spot – group 1&2 rise slows

BRITAINS most popular winter wheat variety is now Consort, the soft milling group three feed variety seizing top honours with 20% of the national crop against Ribands 17%.

"After an excellent year Consort continues to expand its area and is in much demand," says Dalgetys David Neale. Indeed group three and four feed wheats continue to dominate sowings with 69% of the wheat market

Lower premiums this harvest mean no repeat of last years near doubling in the area of group one and two wheats. A 3% rise to 31% of the total wheat area is forecast.

In group one Abbot has doubled its popularity to take 6% of the national wheat crop (see pie chart). Despite some lodging it yielded well and could take even more share given limited seed supplies of Hereward and Malacca, both of which are virtually sold out already, notes Mr Neale.

New variety Shamrock has attracted considerable interest among growers with its stiff straw and good disease resistance, he adds. "We now await full milling trials results from this harvest."

In group two Rialto is set to take a further 2% of the national crop, despite its poor Hagberg showing this season (see panel). Its 9% market share reflects its good all-round performance on specific sites, says Mr Neale.

Later drilled Charger also did well, although 1998 showed the need for more attention to its standing power, says Mr Neale. Cantata, like Rialto, has disappointed on Hagberg and will struggle to make its mark, he adds.

In group three Consort and Riband dominate, but new soft wheat Claire is attracting considerable interest, with high yield, yellow rust resistance and good end market options. "It sold out as soon as seed was released. We are already taking orders for next year."

Following good results this season Madrigal is expanding its planting area from the north to the east and south west, he adds. In group four the skids are under Brigadier, following severe yellow rust pressure. It will slump from 8% to 2%. Equinox being the main beneficiary, rising from a 4% to 9% market share. Reaper will dip to 6%, while Savannah starts moving forward to take 2% share this season.

"New hard wheat Aardvark also enters the frame. With its early maturity and potential eyespot resistance it could prove a timely introduction for Agenda 2000," Mr Neale adds.

RIALTO HICCUP

After taking 7% of sowings last autumn group two variety Rialto hit quality problems this harvest, Hagbergs dipping significantly, particularly in central and southern areas. "We put this down in part to orange blossom midge, together with soil type and harvest conditions not suiting its earlier maturity, with cloudy overcast conditions at flowering and seed set. We have also seen a lot of ergot in it, in both seed and commercial crops," says Mr Neale.