26 November 1999

Recommended List is backed

FLASH-IN-THE-PAN varieties have no place in todays economic climate, and the UK Recommended Lists provide the best way of ensuring growers are not tempted to grow them, according to Frank Oldfield, Norfolk farmer and chairman of the HGCAs oilseeds research and development committee.

Speaking at the announcement of winners in the variety race for recommendation for 2000, Mr Oldfield said with farmers facing their lowest prices for at least 30 years, two key phrases have surfaced – "survival" and "avoidance of risk".

"In my decision-making what I need is certainty. Certainty that a variety is not a one-year wonder, that it will suit my particular soils, that it will fit my rotation and general planning of operations, and probably, most of all, that it will meet the market I am growing for."

In a robust defence of the RL system, which he acknowledged had received considerable criticism, Mr Oldfield claimed it was the envy of Europe.

The lists are independent, authoritative and backed by good science, he said. "Thats terribly important. I want to know the reason why things happen, not just that a variety has a resistance to a disease. I want to know how broad that resistance is and how good it is.

"And I want to know that the decisions I am making are predictive and not just a reflection of past glories. I want consistency."

If proof of its independence is needed, growers have only to look to this years winter oats, where a decision on a variety called Millennium has been deferred, he added. "Its a marketing ploy that went terribly wrong."

&#8226 Full details, p56-58. &#42

KEYRL 2000 WINNERS

&#8226 Napier – w wheat.

&#8226 Antonia, Siberia – w barley.

&#8226 Grafton – w oat.

&#8226 Cohort, Comodor, Fortress – w osr.

&#8226 Saloon, Tavern, Chime – s barley.