18 August 1995

French wheats in drought trial

LIGHT land wheat growers who have seen wheats burn off under this summers searing sun may soon have an answer thanks to new French material being screened at Dennis Westons Willoughby Farms near Alford, Lincs, and other sites across the UK.

Milling wheats Oracle and Oratorio bred by Benoist in the dry Paris basin are being trialled by agent New Farm Crops.

"Wheats from the basin have to cope with a hot dry harvest," says wheat breeding consultant Richard Dickinson. "We want to see if they will suit drought-prone soils here."

Early development and maturity means that both varieties can cope better in dry early summers than their English counterparts, he explains. "They are looking good at the moment but it is very early days."

Aubourn Farmings Bridget Carroll hopes they will succeed. "Better drought resistance would be a major benefit on drier, stress-prone soils to reduce physiological pressures and extend crop life." &#42