Plant breeders slow to cultivate
PLANT breeders have been dragging their feet in finding a replacement winter wheat for Riband, the dominant variety in Scotland for ten years, claims a cereals expert.
Dr David Cranstoun, a cereals expert with the Scottish Agricultural College, estimates that gross earnings from the wheat crop in Scotland this year will fall by up to £40 million. He believes that growers are spending upwards of £5m on top of that trying to keep Riband clean.
Any new variety must be robust, stiff-strawed and suitable for both distilling and biscuit making. A higher specific weight than Riband would also be an advantage, as would a greater resistance to septoria, a foliar disease which can decimate yields if not treated.
Malting barley is a major crop in Scotland, with growers supplying 42% of the UK requirement of 1.23m tonnes. The European Union demand for malt is static, according to Lorne Watson of Moray Firth Maltings, but the worldwide market is expanding at the rate of 4.7% a year.
- The Scotsman 05/08/98 page 26