11 August 1995

Newer varieties perform well

RESULTS from national variety trials are emerging up to two weeks earlier than last year, confirming the rapid progress of harvest across the country.

Arable Research Centres expects its winter barley descriptive list will arrive on farmers doorsteps today (Friday). It includes data on 31 varieties off 13 trials from Yorkshire to Somerset and across to Kent.

Frost damage has made interpretation difficult in some varieties, comments ARC director Mike Carver. But the overwhelming message is that newer lines have done well. "Some trusted varieties are now dropping down the yield scale. Farmers need to become a bit more adventurous with variety choice," he comments.

Four special malting barley trials have also thrown up some "fascinating" results. "Its the second year weve done this. It shows the yield difference between feed and malting types can vary with variety. And its not predictable. Weve also found that the ranking between malting types can differ, depending upon whether they were grown with feed or malting inputs."

Winter wheat cutting is also well ahead. "Its almost embarrassing how quickly crops are coming off. Weve had totally uninterrupted harvesting." ARCs winter wheat list should be on farm late next week – a fortnight earlier than last year. Mr Carver promises "surprises" in the results.

Meanwhile, the National Institute of Agricultural Botany is finalising its harvest results. Home-Grown Cereals Authority funding means winter wheat, barley and oilseed rape data will be freely available to growers sooner this year.

Summaries of the first results – from some 20 oilseed rape trial sites – should be available early next week, says a spokesman. Watch out for details in farmers weekly. Figures for barley from at least as many sites should be ready after Aug 17, he adds.

NIAB has a "big national programme", he points out. "We still have dry matters and statistical analysis to take into account." Ensuring that all the necessary checking has been done to produce reliable information takes time, he comments.