15 August 1997

New wheats for the north

SCOTLAND, with its longer growing season and high disease risk, has been neglected by wheat breeders for more than 10 years, claims Frank Curtis of Nickerson Seeds.

But all that is set to change with the arrival of two new varieties tailored to the north, he says.

"Riband has to be under increasing pressure because it is a high input variety and lower end prices will make it less attractive. There is also increasing opposition to varieties that demand high chemical inputs," he says.

Soft wheats Claire and Nemesis will be attractive to distillers. Claire, which matched Riband for yield in Scotland last year, will be the first to be marketed.

Average specific weight is 74.8kg/hl compared with 72.9 for Riband. Hagberg falling number was 298 (271) and spirit yield 44.8 litres/t (45.2).

According to Mr Curtis, Claire has excellent disease resistance, especially to septoria. A prostrate winter habit allows lower seeding rates and early maturity is another plus point.n