23 June 1995

Newcomers fight farm save

BEST weapon against farm-saved seed is a good range of new varieties with definite advantages. So says Paul Taylor of Seed Innovations, one of several companies with novel offerings.

Despite ADAS views on break crops and farmer reaction to poor comparative pulse aid, Cebeco-owned SI sees a good future for its four new pea varieties and Amazon, a new white-flowered spring bean with improved resistance to fusarium foot rot.

"We think we can reverse the decline because of their quality," says Mr Taylor. Elan and Lantra are large blue pea types "both outperforming market leader Solara". Celica is a "first" as a semi-leafless marrowfat with yield above Solara. Delta is a tall white-seeded pea especially suited to light soils, which did particularly well in ARC trials last year, he says.

SI is also a "full-blown" breeding company now, with its own wheat programme, although varieties are several years away, adds technical manager Stephen Smith.

PBI high wheat hopes

PBI Cambridge has high hopes for two new runners in the wheat race – Charger, its recommended list challenger, and Shango, a Common Catalogue variety from PBI France.

"Charger is in the top bracket for yield – as Brigadier in our own trials," says PBICs Bob Newman. "It is early, although not as early as Soissons, but it is very good from late sowings." Initial views were that it did not have bread-making quality. But a recent independent test shows it makes a satisfactory loaf, putting it in the same bracket as Mercia, he says. Shango was the highest yielding wheat in two years of official French trials and was listed last year. "Its bread-making quality is very similar to Hereward."

Mike Bearman enthuses about the earliness of Corporal, the firms latest oilseed rape. It is "at least a week earlier" than the earliest types normally used in Scotland, he says. Combined with unusually good autumn vigour to counter pigeons and a "huge response" to fungicides the "son of Capricorn" has plenty to offer, he believes.

NIAB is less sure. After two years of national list trials the variety is not up for listing. "It hasnt struck us as significantly early," says oilseeds specialist Simon Kightley. "Its yield is not outstanding and we have certainly had reservations about its performance in untreated trials where light leaf spot was a problem." The PBIC resistance rating is 5.

CPB Plaisant replacement

CPB Twyfords six-row winter barley, Muscat, a recommended list candidate, looks a useful Plaisant replacement, according to breeder John Blackman. Specific weight is unusually high for a six-row. "It is tall, but OK treated."

However, inclusion of only one six-row type in recommended list trials, albeit one with good quality, suggests the "goalposts have been moved", says Frank Curtis of Nickersons Seeds. All the emphasis in the past has been on achieving maximum yield, he says. The firms six-row Arctic has Manitou-style output but stands better, he says.

Dalgetys David Neale is "very disappointed" with the shortage of six-rows in RL trials. Corsar, the firms latest offering from German breeder Strenge, has outyielded Manitou by 5% in the south, he says. "It has also got better rhyncho and brown rust resistance."

New Farm Crops top barleys

New Farm Crops has a strong hand in the spring barley stakes with two recommended list candidates – Pitcher and Trinity. Both have top malting quality, confirmed by the IoB, says NFCs Steve Smith, with the bonus of good resistance to aphid-borne barley yellow dwarf virus – a feature pioneered by the firm.

Trinity has the slightly higher yield, NFC figures suggesting output quite well up on Alexis and Chariot. Pitchers specific quality, with "high diastatic power", could make it especially suitable for the Scottish market, says Mr Smith.