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24 July 1998


The coming season is the last chance to grow a break

crop before Agenda 2000 proposals bite. Breeding

developments are worth considering before choosing crop

or variety. Andrew Swallow reports the latest advice

from NIAB on winter oats, beans, peas and linseed


OAT growers would do well to take a look at Jalna, says NIAB trials officer Clare Leaman.

With 5% higher yields than any other recommended variety, growers cannot afford to ignore the advance, she says.

"I would suggest growers try some, though perhaps not on all their acreage at first."

Grain characteristics are good and resistance to crown rust and mildew is rated as good and moderate respectively. The variety is fairly tall, with moderate straw strength, giving it a standing power rating of six on the 1998 list.

Gerald still popular

For standing power, Gerald scores highly and is currently the most widely grown variety. "It is short and stiff which is why farmers are attracted to it, but even on the treated plots it has gone down this year."

For an early harvest, Aintree is still the best bet, typically being a week earlier than other varieties, though list candidate Kingfisher is also early to mature. However none of the list candidates match Jalna for yield, she notes.

Naked oats could be an attractive alternative, so long as growers ensure buy-back contracts compensate for 25-30% lower yield potential, she concludes.


TIME for a change is NIABs message to winter bean growers.

"This year has demonstrated the value of standing power and disease resistance," says NIAB pulse and oilseeds co-ordinator, Tim Green. "Punch is becoming a bit outclassed, on yield, straw characters, and disease resistance."

Clipper is the suggested alternative, combining the standing power of Target with the ascochyta resistance of Striker. Figures from the west of the country, where Clipper has out-yielded Target by 3% and Striker by 7%, emphasise those strengths, notes Mr Green.

Breeding work on winter beans is limited, as they are something of a UK speciality. But white flowered types are a prospect for the future.

"If people are looking for a new variety now, then Clipper should be the one. But bear in mind the costs," he concludes.


WINTER linseed offers more consistent yields than the spring crop, but lodging problems have to be addressed, says NIABs Simon Kightley.

"Much of the lodging is to do with too-high seed rates. Growers should not go above 600 seeds per sq m," he says.

Drilling must also be timely. "The crop is susceptible to frost-heave. It should be drilled in September. Smaller plants from later sowings are increasingly vulnerable."

Of the varieties, existing standard Oliver is as good as any, including those in the trials pipeline, he suggests.

Oliver typically yields are typically 2-3t/ha (0.8-1.2t/acre), with a much earlier harvest than the spring crop.


WINTER peas have still to prove themselves after two years of formal variety trials, says NIAB.

"We have had two years of problems, and are yet to see the benefits," NIABs pulse and oilseeds co-ordinator, Tim Green explains. "We are not getting a consistent yield increase over the spring crop."

Of varieties in trials, Froidure offers possible premiums for canning, but is poor on standing. Aravis, a new variety last year, was the highest yielding. But that is on just one years results. Standing power is again poor. Rafale and Blizzard are better standing, pure feed types, though even these have gone flat.

"Growers want a pea standing up, but there is no prospect of that in the winter crop," says Mr Green.

Earlier maturity means winter peas are less drought prone than the spring crop, and may be at an advantage in the north, especially as winter hardiness seems good. Pests can be a serious problem, particularly pigeons and pheasants, but drilling early increases the risks of wind damage and disease as plants get too big, notes Mr Green.

"Ideally drill in November. But the crop is less vigorous than rape, and at a vulnerable stage for a long time as a result."

Growers contemplating the winter crop should consider the additional risks compared to the spring option very carefully before making a decision, he concludes. &#42

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2 January 1998


THERE is no shortage of choice when it comes to field pea varieties, says Cathy Knott of the Processors and Growers Research Organisation.

The down side is that relatively few growers may get the chance to grow them this season. "There are some good, quite new varieties on the recommended list," says Ms Knott. "But there is very little seed of them being multiplied."

NIAB figures show three varieties dominated the certified seed area for sowing this spring – Eiffel, Elan and the human consumption-type Princess had 16%, 11.8% and 12.1% shares.

Old standby Solara, now losing out on yield, and long strawed Grafila together accounted for about 11%. Good new names, like Focus, Alfetta, Carrera, and Chorale each occupied at best 2.4%. "Although, in some cases seed may be available from other countries."

Carrera in particular combines good downy mildew defence and ease of combining, notes Ms Knott. "Mildew resistance is certainly important as last season reminded us."

Eiffel and provisionally recommended Espace have the same 8 score for mildew resistance, as well as the best combined figures for standing ability and ease of harvest. "Eiffel was in short supply last year because a lot of seed went abroad. But farmers like it for its combining characteristics.

"Espace looks outstanding. But it is not being sold for the pet-food market because the seed might be considered too small by some micronisers. It is better to think of it purely as a feed pea."

Fully recommended, large blues Hampton and Elan have both been used for micronising. Elan, scoring 8, has slightly better downy mildew resistance.

Baccara should continue to attract growers as joint top yielder, Ms Knott believes. But after human consumption-type Maro it is the weakest strawed listed variety and will usually require a seed-dressing against mildew.

Badminton and Bonanza, both white seeded, along with Espace, make up the trio of newcomers with better agronomic features.

Human consumption suppliers see their choice of recommended varieties reduced since last year.

The marrowfats Maro, first listed in 1985 and still one of the best for canning whole, and the slightly younger Princess used for packets are both very susceptible to downy mildew, warns Ms Knott. "Progreta will still be acceptable for some markets. Bunting is grown solely on contract to van den Berg."

"The market for round, smooth-skinned pigeon feed peas seems to be getting plenty of attention. But at about 10,000t a year it is small beside the estimated 1.1m tonnes a year requirement for animal feed."

Coloured flowered variety Minerva remains the top quality choice, she suggests.

"But it is long strawed and had a bad season last year when it lodged." New semi-leafless types like Racer may provide useful alternatives in 1999.

Yield ratings of

recommended peas

Animal feed types.

Fully recommended

102 Baccara, Focus

100 Alfetta, Carrera, Chorale

99 Eiffel, Hampton

98 Elan

97 Grafila

Provisionally recommended

102 Badminton, Bonanza, Espace

Becoming outclassed:

93 Solara

Human consumption types.

Fully recommended

87 Princess

80 Maro

Becoming outclassed:

84 Progreta

Peas can prove an attractive break crop, especially if grown for specialist markets. Indeed growers aiming for the human consumption market can now refer to a special section in the NIAB handbook.

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