5 January 1996

Oat trio dominate the certified field

THREE of the nine spring oat varieties account for more than 80% of the certified seed area for the crop.

For fungicide-treated yield there is little to choose between the top three fully recommended ones, Valiant (115/100)**, the slightly taller Aberglen (114/110), and Dula (114/96) which was first listed back in 1983. The latter has good kernel content and is widely used for milling.

Of the three, Aberglen has the best mildew resistance, but it is very susceptible to crown rust. Melys (109/102) the other fully recommended variety, is equally good against mildew but only marginally more resistant to crown rust. Its untreated yield penalty however is the least of all listed varieties.

Disease resistance and the ability to give much of their potential yield in the absence of fungicides is important in oats. "Thats because they are generally sprayed less than other cereals," says Mr Fenwick.

Minerva (114/99) matches Dula for kernel content and is provisionally recommended.

Of the other two in the same bracket, Bruno (117/101) is potentially the highest yielder, but is only recommended for the north-east and north-west. It also has below average kernel content.

Piper (114/102), the sole addition to the 1996 list, gets on with a recommendation for the central, south-east and south-west regions. Its key feature, on limited data, is outstanding crown rust resistance.

For naked oat enthusiasts, provisionally recommended Neon (89/79) offers a slight yield edge over fully recommended Rhiannon (85/75).

Neon also has slightly stiffer straw and much higher specific weight. But both are highly susceptible to crown rust, comments Mr Fenwick.

*The ratings refer to yield, with and without fungicide, relative to the mean 100 of controls Aberglen, Dula and Variant. Differences of less than 4% and 5% for fully and provisionally recommended varieties respectively should be treated with reserve, says NIAB.

Early drilling can help spring cereals withstand summer droughts.