6 September 1996

Potential bread-makers come good in Northants

TWO potential bread-making wheats have beaten other types for gross margin in variety tests at Rockingham Castle Estate, Corby, Northants, run in conjunction with Norfolk-based BDR Agriculture.

The field-scale examination of 20 winter wheats receiving standard commercial husbandry, did not suffer last years competition from blackgrass, notes farms manager, Ray Dalton. "Everything went to plan so the varieties were able to express their full potential."

About 20ha (50 acres) of heavy boulder clay on the 1000ha (2500-acre) estate were devoted to the tests. "The yields are a good 0.5t/acre up on last year," says BDRs seeds manager, Tim Hirst.

Abbot and Caxton are in the lower half of the Rockingham output league table, at 10.57t/ha (4.21t/acre) and 10.44t/ha (4.16t/ acre), respectively, against top yielder Brigadiers 11.62t/ha (4.63t/ acre). But the pair are more rewarding on the basis of spot values applied according to grain quality as assessed by BDRs own laboratory. Base price used was £100/t – Abbot achieved a "premium" of £20/t and Caxton £15/t, explains Mr Hirst. Malacca, another hard bread-making variety, leapt from 18th place for yield to sixth slot in the gross margin table when BDR spot prices were applied. "It has got potential," comments Mr Hirst. "We have always tended to go for fill-barn types," says Mr Dalton. "Weve tried milling varieties before but we never seem to get the yield or make the protein." This years proteins, from a total of 175kg/ha (140 units/acre) of nitrogen, ranged from 11% (Abbot) to as low as 9.66% (Harrier). The test results have encouraged him to try a larger area of three or maybe four bread-makers next season. "Caxton really impresses, short, stiff and 4t plus/acre – perhaps with a late nitrogen to top up we could have achieved 11% protein."

Of the other varieties at Rockingham, Raleigh once again out-yielded its stable-mate Reaper by 2-3%, despite having the lowest specific weight (and Hagberg). "It seems it is just a quirk of our site." Nationally the positions are reversed, he concedes. "Crofter has again performed well, clearly demonstrating its yield potential."

Consort, despite looking ragged throughout the winter, again confirmed its potential as a Riband replacement, and Charger has impressed, he adds.

Tilburi, a Soissons-type variety from Seed Innovations surprised, coming 7th in the yield table at 11.12t/ha (4.43t/acre). "It will be well worth keeping an eye on, as I never trust anything with a beard," says Mr Dalton. &#42

Ray Dalton… Encouraged to try more bread-makers after Rockingham Castle wheat variety tests.