6 September 2002

Mixed message for leaf blotch wheats future

By Andrew Blake

MIXED performance from a provisionally recommended winter wheat, which suffered unexplained leaf yellowing this summer (Arable, July 12), may slow the varietys progress, according to NIAB.

But breeder Advanta Seeds says Xi19s yield variation is no more than normal and nearly all its estimated 1000 growers are more than satisfied.

With 20 of the 30 Recommended List trials complete the Group 1 breadmaker is yielding 3% below expectations with some sites doing particularly poorly, notes NIABs Richard Fenwick.

"Overall its very variable." In Lincs and North Yorks it returned 106% of controls, but in Notts it gave only 88%, he notes. "We cant really say its down to leaf blotching and yellowing. We didnt have many reports."

Results from Hants, where there was noticeable leaf loss, suggest it has not seriously hit Xi19s yield, says colleague Peter Shipway. "But at 103% of controls its not near being top yielder as it was last year, so there has obviously been a small effect."

Richard Overthrow of the Arable Research Centres is sure Xi19s earlier loss of green leaf trimmed output. "It still outyielded Malacca, but nothing like in the past."

Some ARC members were thinking twice about the variety before harvest, he notes. "But generally they have been pleasantly surprised that yield hasnt bottomed out as much as they thought it might."

Jonathan Arnold of Hants-based merchant Robin Appel believes several southern growers are considering claims against the breeder. Advantas Paul Hickman refutes that. "Ive had complaints, but claims are not being entertained. We cannot compensate for weather effects."

About 24,000ha (60,000 acres) of Xi19 was grown commercially, he notes. "We have had only two people come back and say they are disappointed."

One who will definitely not grow Xi19 again is Steven Horn having experienced severe crop yellowing and flag leaf loss in his 20ha (50 acre) crop at Bushey Down Farm near Winchester.

"Our Consort and Claire averaged 85.5cwt/acre, but Xi19 did only 70cwt." Protein was only 11.9-12.3%.

In Shropshire Peter Taylor, who also experienced leaf chlorosis and early flag loss, says Xi19 will not figure again in cropping at Lea Hall, Whitchurch. One early October drilling surrounded by Savannah and treated exactly the same delivered 1.2t/ha (0.5t/acre) less. Protein was only 10.8%. &#42

Xi19 harvest

Big range of trials yields.

Link to chlorosis unproven.

Most growers happy, says breeder.

No loss claims entertained.

&#8226 Big range of trials yields.

&#8226 Link to chlorois unproven.

&#8226 Most growers happy, says breeder.

&#8226 No loss claims entertained.