26 November 1999

Napier leads entries on slimmer year 2000 List

The UK Recommended Lists

for the new Millennium are

tighter and more focused than

before, but include several

new varieties with much

better yields. Andrew Blake

reports in detail

NAPIER is the only one of five winter wheat candidates vying for RL inclusion to make the new list for 2000.

The hard endosperm feed variety from PBI Cambridge has marginally outstripped previous yield leader Savannah in most regions and on most soil types, notes NIABs John Ramsbottom. "Its a high input/high output variety for the best fertile soils."

In a year when Hagbergs have been at a premium, Napiers, at 213, is nothing special, he notes. "But its specific weight is 76.6."

Only in the north-east and central regions, or when it has been sown after Oct 15 or on sandy soils, has Napier been outyielded by Savannah, he says. "Its straw strength is similar and it has middle of the road disease resistance."

Savannahs confirmed performance sees it becoming fully recommended on a list which contains three fewer names than last year.

Four of the five varieties deemed outclassed in the 1999 list, Abbot, Brigadier, Hussar and Spark have been dropped to be replaced by Reaper and Buster. But early maturing Soissons gets a reprieve, being shifted from the outclassed category to full special recommendation for the central, south-east and south-west regions.

Likewise Riband, increasingly outclassed by Consort in the south, slips from full to regionally recommended for the north-east where it still suits distillers.

Among the failed contenders Cockpits yellow rust susceptibility counted against it, says Mr Ramsbottom. "Ghengis and Aardvark were off the pace with Savannah." Eclipse, which had some biscuit-making potential, also proved uncompetitive.

Regina winter barley rules

TWO of the four contenders for addition to the winter barley RL have won through in a sector which is dominated by Regina. "Regina has set some extremely high targets," says NIABs Richard Fenwick. Indeed some sources suggest it may account for as much as half this seasons crop. "This type of plant model, with high yield, very stiff straw and very high malting potential has just not been seen before. But this year I do think we have some rivals for Regina."

Antonia, from Advanta Seeds, is the only two-row type so far to outyield Regina – by 1%. It also has a much higher untreated yield, reflecting much better disease resistance, including to BaYMV, beating the previously highest yielding BaYMV resister, Jewel by 2% when treated.

A bold-grained feed type, it is not quite as stiff as Regina, but it has useful straw strength and is reasonably long, which should attract livestock farms, Mr Fenwick says. "It is also earlier than Regina, which may extend its appeal."

Dalgetys six-row feed BaYMV resister Siberia outyields Regina by 8% and the previous highest performer, Angela, by 3%. "If you are feed barley grower you really ought to start looking at these yields.

"It really is an extremely stiff variety and in some ways a new type for a six-row because it has short straw. Most previous six-rows were quite long. And it does not brackle. Its a real advance."

Siberia has good mildew and rhynchosporium resistance, but it is susceptible to yellow rust and its brown rust and net blotch defences are only moderate, he notes. Specific weight is not quite as good as Muscat, but is on a par with Angela.

Among other list changes Jewel and Vertige become fully recommended. Pastoral, which has been listed for a decade, retains a special place for use in the north where its earliness is still valued, says Mr Fenwick.

Halcyon, the premier malting variety for 15 years, joins Hanna and Melanie in the outclassed category, and Epic, Pipkin and Rifle have all been dropped.

Naked variety joins oat list

ONLY one winter oat variety, the naked type Grafton from Semundo, joins the 2000 list which is two-thirds the size of the 1999 version.

It is a sector where breeders are still looking for the "holy grail" combination of high yield and high quality, says DANIs Ethel White.

Grafton, which matches Lexicon for yield, has valuable agronomic benefits, notably shorter and stronger straw. "Quality is up to the mark with high specific weight," says Dr White.

Jalna, with the best listed kernel content, joins Gerald as a fully recommended conventional variety. "But we are beginning to say goodbye to Aintree and Image." The former was favoured for its earliness but is becoming somewhat dated, and Images yield is relatively poor, she says.

Naked varieties Harpoon and Krypton have been dropped.

Of the two other contenders, a decision was deferred on Millennium for more information on its marketability, but Birnams quality was not good enough.

Three winter OSR recruits

TWO new hybrids and one new conventional oilseed rape have made it on to the 2000 list for a crop which remains a very valuable cereal break, according to NIABs Simon Kightley.

Cohort, a three-way hybrid from Cargill/Monsanto, yields 1% less than top yielder and varietal association type Gemini, but 1% more than fully restored Pronto. "We know there remains some risk to successful pollination in varietal associations. Ideally, we want hybrids to be fully restored, but there are often problems with seed production and the very high yields have just not come so far."

Cohort and second newcomer Comodor, another three-way hybrid from the same stable, are different in offering uniform plant vigour and potentially good set, he says.

"So although Cohort is not quite as high yielding as Gemini, its reliability is likely to be greater." It stands well and has good light leaf spot resistance.

Comodor, which matches Pronto for yield, is only recommended for the south-east, where it is up with the best, he notes. "It is slightly weaker than Cohort and is slightly less good against light leaf spot. But is has done well in the south east."

Fortress, the new conventional type from Novartis, outyields Apex by 4%, but is stiffer and more resistant to lodging than Madrigal and Escort, which have about the same yield potential, he says. "It has straw characters approaching Apex, so I would think growers will want to have a go with this one. Its light leaf spot resistance is not that good, although it has done tremendously well in the north."

Another contender, Spirit from Novartis, has done well in the north, he says. "But our policy is not to go for regional recommendation until after at least three years of trials."

lThis years oilseed lists introduce a new term, after some growers found "economic performance" confusing. "The new term is gross output which is simply seed yield adjusted for oil content," says Mr Kightley.

Winter beans

GROWERS choice of recommended winter beans has been extended to five with the addition of Wherry & Sons Silver, a product of the former PBIC breeding programme.

A white-flowered, low tannin type its relative yield is only 89 compared with Clipper and Targets 102. It is also weaker stemmed than either of those.

But even in the absence of premiums from compounders it was thought right to include it for use in home-produced rations of hard-pressed pig farmers, explains NIABs Adrian Pickett. "It does have good resistance to ascochyta leaf and pod spot."

Spring barley

THIS years spring barley list bucks the trend by expanding to 17 varieties, including three new names.

Saloon from New Farm Crops offers a treated yield 4% above Optic, notes the SACs David Cranstoun. "Untreated it is a massive 10% better. Sadly it doesnt quite have the malting quality of Optic." But some brewers might find a niche for it, he suggests.

"It justifies its place on the list as a feed with a good portfolio of other characters, apart from a four for ripening, so it is not really for the north."

Tavern, from the same source, is 2% lower yielding when treated, but is a potential malter with an extract rating of nine. And in the south-west, where its good resistance to BYDV and brown rust are particularly valuable, it has outyielded Saloon, notes Dr Cranstoun.

Like Optic and Saloon, Tavern also rates only a four for earliness. "But in the pecking order it is a bad four." For that reason its provisional recommendation is confined to the central, south-east and south-west regions.

Nickersons potential malter Chime, also rated nine for extract, is on a par with Optic for yield, but is stiffer and earlier. "But it is stiffer and significantly earlier with better mildew and rhynchosporium resistance. Altogether it is a package which allows it to be considered a good bet."

A decision to include PBICs Berwick has been deferred mainly because of variable yields, but also because it has been the first variety to lodge in trials.

Apart from the newcomers, the most significant move is the double promotion of Chalice, according to Dr Cranstoun. Its elevation to full recommendation for the north-east and north-west and its full IOB approval give growers there a third option to Optic and Chariot, both of which have their problems in the north, he explains.

Spring oats

IN a slightly shorter spring oat list than last year, newcomer Firth from CPB Twyford was initially viewed by some SAC commentators as "too good to be true", according to DANIs Ethel White. But the provisionally recommended variety offers plenty to dispels that perception, she maintains.

"Its yield, both treated and untreated, is a substantial leap forward." Treated and untreated yields are 1% and 6% up on last years addition Revisor. "It has short straw, always a plus in any oat variety. Its early too. Mildew resistance is excellent and crown rust is nothing to worry about." Grain quality is very good, and despite lowish thousand grain weight, screenings are very low. "So basically it is an all-round package that is quite superb."

With very little seed available, Bullion has been dropped, leaving no naked spring varieties on the list. But the slot remains to be filled, notes Dr White.

Spring OSR

FOUR hybrids, all varietal associations, and two conventional types join the 2000 spring rape list. A decision on the GM herbicide tolerant variety Archimedes has been deferred because it has no marketing consent, says Simon Kightley.

Hybrids now account for half the 18-strong list. In Mistral CPB Twyford have taken yield 4% above the previous leader Hyola 401. Despite being tall it stands well, but growers in the north should be wary of its lateness, he warns.

But one of the conventionals, Senator from Semundo, has such an impressive yield potential, just 1% below Mistral, that it could cause a big re-think, he suggests. "It is just such an incredible leap forward in conventional breeding. I have been back to the technical questionnaires to check that it is not a hybrid that has slipped through, but its not."

Hybrid Liquido from Perryfields is slightly lower yielding and a bit earlier, and Daltons Jura is much the same, he says. Only in Corsair, from Cargill/Monsanto, which is slightly lower yielding still, does one reach the earliness of Concept which becomes fully recommended. But all four new variety associations yield more than the previous standard, Triolo. The main penalty of Senator is that it is later than the previous conventional leader, Maskot. "Estrada [from Semundo] is unlucky. It yields 2% more than the previous best but it has been badly overshadowed by Senator. But it is slightly earlier."

Spring peas

THE 13-strong 2000 spring pea list leaves growers with four less to choose from than last years. But in newcomer Arrow it has a variety offering 4% more output than Baccara, the previously highest fully recommended yielder.

A white-flowered, semi-leafless type from Nickerson it is small-seeded which helps trim seed costs, suggests NIABs Adrian Pickett. Another strong point is downy mildew resistance which could reduce the need for seed treatment.

"It is susceptible to pea wilt but that wont be a problem for too many growers."

Spring beans

TWO new names join the slightly expanded 2000 list for spring beans.

Meli, from CPB Twyford, and Piccadilly from Wherry & Sons outyield Maya and Quattro, the previous best by 3% and 2% respectively.

Large-seeded Meli is quite tall with only moderate standing power. Downy mildew resistance is also only moderate, but better than that of Maya and Quattro.

Piccadilly is shorter than Meli but otherwise similar in straw characteristics. However, it is susceptible to downy mildew, notes Mr Pickett.

NOTE: There are no new spring wheats in the 2000 list. &#42

NEWWINTERCEREALS

New winter wheat

&#8226 Napier (PG) – Top yielding high input/high output feed variety.

New winter barleys

&#8226 Antonia (PG) – Highest yielding two-row type on list. Feed only.

&#8226 Siberia (PG) – Top yielding six-row mainly for on-farm feeding.

New winter oat

&#8226 Grafton (PG) – Naked type with improved grain quality.

PG = provisionally recommended for general use.

Less choice but better quality

Growers picking their way through the varieties winning through to the HGCA/ PGRO levy-funded Recommended Lists for 2000 have 10 fewer to choose from than last year. But those that are there reflect constant improvement, says new NIAB director, Brian Legge.

Breeders now face a particularly high hurdle in the form of variety trials conducted by The National Institute of Agricultural Botany, Scottish Agricultural College and Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland, supported by further work by the Camden and Chorleywood Food Research Association, National Association of British and Irish Millers and the Institute of Brewing, as well as ADAS, Arable Research Centres and others, says Prof Legge. "But without breeders skill in developing new varieties each year that are continually putting up the standards this would be a non-exercise. We should record our gratitude to the fantastic job done by the people breeding new varieties for the UK."

The slimmer lists have helped save costs, adds Frank Oldfield for the HGCA. "There is no point hanging on to old varieties for nostalgias sake. The more there are the more expensive the system is to run."

NEWWINTEROILSEEDS

&#8226 Cohort (PG) – Three-way hybrid. Second highest listed yield.

&#8226 Comodor (RPG) – High yielding three-way hybrid for south-east.

&#8226 Fortress (PG) – Stiff-stemmed conventional challenge to Escort.

PG and RPG = Provisionally recommended for general and regional use, respectively.

NEWPULSES

New winter bean

&#8226 Silver (PS) – White-flowered low yielding/low tannin feeder.

New spring beans

&#8226 Meli (PG) – Top yielder with downy mildew improvement.

&#8226 Piccadilly (PG) – Second highest yield and shorter than Meli.

New spring pea

&#8226 Arrow (PG) – Top yielder, easy to combine.

PS and PG = provisionally recommended for special and general use respectively.

NEWSPRING LINSEEDS

&#8226 Bilstar – Joint top yielder.

&#8226 Taurus – Stiff and good output.

&#8226 Tyne – Short stiff straw.

&#8226 Agriace and Agrigem – Lowish yields but better than Barbara.

&#8226 Rydal – Earlier edible oil type.

Spring varieties special

Spring linseed Descriptive List decisions, plus further details of spring variety choices, will be contained in farmers weeklys comprehensive Spring Varieties Special on Dec 31. Dont miss it!.

NEWSPRINGOSRS

Varietal association hybrids

&#8226 Mistral (PG) – Top yielder. Tall but stands very well.

&#8226 Liquido (PG) – Good yield and slightly earlier than Mistral.

&#8226 Jura (PG) – Similar to Liquido but rather lower oil content.

&#8226 Corsair (PG) – Earliest VA type outyielding Concept.

Conventional types

&#8226 Senator (PG) – Exceptional yield.

&#8226 Estrade (PG) — Yield equal to some hybrids.

PG = provisionally recommended for general use.