7 July 1995

Good wheat choice within nine varieties

JUST nine varieties account for more than four-fifths of the certified seed area for this autumns wheat sowings.

Of those only one, Hereward, is in NABIMs group 1 category. "It is well liked by all millers," says NIABs Richard Fenwick. Stiff straw and "reasonable" disease resistance, except to yellow rust, make it the most popular bread-maker. But premiums are vital to offset its relatively low yield (120 against Brigadiers 134 in fungicide-treated trials).

Riband and Brigadier vie for the number one slot in terms of sowing area, both with about a fifth of the certified seed acreage. The formers poor disease resistance is well known but growers like its stiff straw and accept they have to use fungicide to protect its yield, says Mr Fenwick.

Brigadier has the edge on potential output (134 against Ribands 129 in treated trials) but growers looking to export should find more scope with Riband, according to the BCE guide.

Hunters popularity is declining despite its having better disease resistance than Riband. "It is not as stiff-strawed and its soft endosperm grain does not have the qualities required by biscuit manufacturers here or overseas."

Hussar, the second highest yielder on the Recommended List, has, like Brigadier, been affected by the new strain of yellow rust albeit to a lesser extent. "It produces good quality feed grain which would meet export requirements." But the BCE guide points out that in practice such better quality varieties, though suitable for animal feed, would usually be too expensive for overseas users.

Consort was provisionally recommended last autumn. A soft endosperm type like Riband, it has similar straw strength but better disease resistance and yield, responding well to fungicides. "It is likely that Consort will have the same marketability as Riband, being suitable for animal feed, biscuit, distilling and export market."

Provisionally recommended Cadenza, Rialto and Soissons, all NABIM group 2 types have bread-making potential but they may be suitable only for some processes. So they are less likely to receive the same premiums as group 1 types – Hereward, Mercia, Spark and the spring variety Axona.

Cadenza gives "moderately" high yields (127 against Rialtos 131) with good grain quality. "Disease resistance is generally good but it is moderately susceptible to the septorias." Best not sown too early, it has done well from later autumn drillings.

Rialto is capable of very high yields but these have been variable, notably in 1993, says Mr Fenwick. It is also rather susceptible to the rusts and has relatively tall straw. Grain quality is generally good but its bread-making performance has been inconsistent.

Soissons, an early variety for the central, south-east and south-west regions, has Hereward-type yields but lower bread-making quality. Good against mildew, and moderately so against the septorias it is susceptible to the rusts and eyespot. "Its grain quality in terms of Hagberg, specific weight and protein content is very good." &#42


Winter wheats: Share of certified seed area for harvest 95 (%)

Riband20.0

Brigadier19.6

Hunter9.3

Hereward8.3

Hussar7.8

Cadenza5.1

Consort5.1

Rialto4.5

Soissons4.2

Others16.1

Source: NIAB.

There are plenty of useful looking wheats ready to eat into a market dominated by two main varieties. Richard Fenwick examines Reaper, one of the six competing for a place on the recommended list this autumn.