16 December 2000

Recommended List

Therell be a bumper crop of new names in the 2001 Recommended Lists. Gilly Johnson checks out their form.

Winter wheat

NOT one, not two, but seven new wheats and eight barleys win that coveted place on the 2001 UK Recommended List. Its good news for the plant breeders, but privately some expressed surprise with the committees "magnanimous decisions" on varieties which arguably didnt meet the traditional requirement of beating the best in particular categories.

Is it just a case of plant breeders gripes or is it a sign of "softer" decision making? New NIAB chief, Prof Brian Legg, did indicate that end use and input costs were being given a higher priority. Next year, Recommended List decisions move from NIABs control to a new body set up by the HGCA; could this mark a new emphasis for recommendation?

Speculation apart, the winter wheat List includes three new feed/biscuit wheats, and one Group 2 milling type. Starting with breadmaking potential, Option (PBIC Seeds) is the long-awaited Rialto replacement. It comes in with better and more reliable yield and quality, particularly on hagberg and ergot. Millers are yet to give a verdict, but signals are promising. Straw is a shade shorter and stiffer than Rialto. Mildew will need watching.

At the front of the feed wheats, Tanker (Elsoms Seeds) storms in at 2% ahead of Savannahs treated yield. In the north, some trials have weighed in even higher. Tanker is short and stiff, with hard endosperm and good grain characters although specific weight could be better at just under 76kg/hl. But its still ahead of Ribands figure (75.3kg/hl), a variety which was not considered to have a problem, points out NIABs Adrian Pickett. Septoria tritici susceptibility is a weakness; at 4, Tankers resistance rating is on a par with Consort. "But in all, a good wheat which could tempt growers back to feed wheats," says Mr Pickett.

Soft endosperm variety Deben (Nickerson UK) is just a point behind on yield, but is 4% ahead of popular soft wheat Claire which has set the standard for Group 3 biscuit types. Deben is from the same stable as Claire, although with a different type of biscuit milling quality. Its not one that the millers would want to see mixed in with Claire, but other niche milling market uses such as batter and household flours have tipped the balance in Debens favour.

It is weaker strawed, and Debens disease resistance, including eyespot, doesnt rank alongside Claires excellent profile. That said, untreated yield beats everything else on the List. "Will it allow growers to cut inputs?" says Mr Pickett.

Finally, hard feed Biscay (CPB Twyford) wins a place despite a yield which falls short of Savannahs, and weaker straw. Grain quality – in particular, an excellent hagberg and specific weight – has been taken into account. "With these grain characters, Biscay looks to have good export potential in world markets outside Europe," says Mr Pickett. "For example, north African buyers specify just hagberg and specific weight." But Biscay will need management to keep upright and to control disease; yellow rust resistance is rated 5. Fusarium ear blight resistance looks excellent at a provisional 8, the best on the List.

From the same stable, disease resistant, early sowing candidate Genghis failed to be recommended following deferral last year, jettisoned by poor yield results. Hard feed Oxbow (PBIC Seeds) was stalled by lower yield and potential susceptibility to a new race of yellow rust.

The 2001 List sees the removal of Reaper and Buster, and the demotion of Rialto to outclassed. Riband stays with its regional recommendation for the north, joined by Buchan which is promoted from provisional classification, and Madrigal which shifts from full to regional recommendation. Claire, Malacca and Shamrock are elevated to full recommendation.

Spring wheat

THE wettest autumn since records began isnt the best time to launch a new Recommended List for late autumn-sown spring wheats. This season waterlogged fields will prevent much drilling until spring 2001; in a normal year 80% of spring wheats are sown late autumn. With that in mind, heres a new ranking which recognises the need for variety information on the late autumn, post-root slot. Pertinently, it also gives the latest safe sowing dates.

Fully recommended on this new List are Chablis, Imp, Paragon and Shiraz; Wallace (PBIC Seeds), Ashby (CPB Twyford) and Morph (Nickerson UK) are in the provisional category as potential Group 2 types. All three newcomers have better yield than Chablis, with Wallace leading the pack, showing good disease resistance and some breadmaking quality. Data from some late drilled winter wheats is shown for comparison; Wallace and Ashby match Charger.

At 1% below Charger, Morph is short and stiff, with what looks to be the best Group 2 breadmaking rating at 7. It is weak against Septoria tritici but otherwise disease profile is good.

Ashby is awarded a place both on this List and also the 2001 spring-sown spring wheat list, where relative yield is better; here it leads the performance ranking. Some breadmaking quality is indicated. Wallace and Morph are not recommended when spring sown, because at that timing specific weights and protein quality are not up to what is expected from a true spring wheat.

Other changes to the traditional spring wheat list include the removal of old stalwart Axona and the promotion of Group 1 quality breadmaker Paragon to fully recommended.

Winter barley

MALTING varieties Pearl and Regina set the standard for two-row winter malting barleys, for yield and quality. Two newcomers are recommended on the basis of better performance as malting types: Opal (Nickerson UK) and Leonie (Advanta Seeds). Both are rated 9 for malting; more on these later.

With feed barleys, Sumo (New Farm Crops) has shifted the goalposts. Yield is 2% better than Antonia or Pearl. "Its not far off the older six rows, such as Muscat and Manitou," says NIABs Richard Fenwick. "It could make growers look again at feed varieties." Sumo is a little late to mature, and has moderate disease resistance and straw strength.

Haka (CPB Twyford) is a whisker behind on yield but shows a far better disease profile and gives excellent untreated performance and opportunities for cutting inputs, says Mr Fenwick. "We all thought Heligan had a big bold grain but Hakas is bigger still, so there could be potential for the pearling market." Other attributes include early maturity and moderate straw strength.

With BaYMV spreading, Avenue (Advanta UK) is a feed barley with useful resistance. On yields and agronomics it matches last years resistant newcomer Antonia, but offers a slightly different disease spectrum which widens the choice. Avenue is better against mildew and has larger bold grains, and good specific weight.

Matching popular variety Pearl on treated yield, malting barley Opal (Nickerson UK) does better still untreated, even though its disease profile is not quite as good. Straw is short and stiff, unlike Pearl, and Opal is earlier maturing.

Recommended for special use on account of virus resistance, German-bred Leonie (Advanta Seeds) has an excellent malting extract – better than Pearl. "With the IOB having now removed approval for Gleam, this is an exciting alternative," says Mr Fenwick. Disease profile includes top ratings for mildew, rhyncho and net blotch resistance. It has small grains and a similar 1000 grain weight to Gleam. Short and stiff straw completes the package.

The only winter barley not recommended was six-row variety Jackpot; it failed to meet Siberias high standard.

The re-shuffle to the 2001 List includes promotion for Pearl, Heligan and six-row Angela to full recommendation. The regional recommendation for Pastoral shrinks back to north-east only and Muscat moves into north-east recommendation. Six-row Manitou, Intro, Flute and Gleam shift to outclassed and Hanna, Melanie and Halcyon disappear.

Spring barley

ONE British breeder, New Farm Crops, continues to dominate the spring barley List, with three new varieties, all provisionally recommended.

Malting quality has to be first rate to compete commercially; Cellar does just this with a hot water extract which is way ahead of Chariot and Optic. "Its a significant step forward for maltsters," says the SACs Dr David Cranstoun. "If the seed trade does not take advantage of such high quality new varieties, then it will tighten the noose around its own neck." Higher yield, reasonable standing power and moderate maturity make for a package which will interest the northern spring barley grower.

Brackling has been a little suspect, he notes – and is reflected in an ear loss resistance rating of 6. Cellar is susceptible to rhyncho (rated 4) and potentially to yellow rust.

County leads on yield, treated and untreated. Malting potential is there, but it isnt up to Cellars, so Dr Cranstoun would advise comparing County against feed barley Static. Maturity is a little late to appeal to northern growers, says Dr Cranstoun. "And good mildew and brown rust resistance will suit the south better."

Yield is not the only yardstick for Recommended List success. A "unique" resistance against rhynchosporium, rated 9, and a 9 for mildew, has put Pewter into a special use recommendation on the basis of its superb disease profile, despite yield and quality which doesnt match up to either the top feed or malting barley respectively. "The question is whether the seed trade will back this variety as one which could help growers in the battle against disease," says Dr Cranstoun. Pewter is short strawed, with some malting quality. Brown rust is a weakness.

Other changes to the List include the promotion of feed barley Static and distilling variety Decanter to full recommendation. Delibes and Dandy are demoted to outclassed. Century is removed due to lack of end user support, despite excellent malt extract. Cooper, Landlord and Derkado are removed as outclassed; Hart also vanishes from the List although is likely to maintain some grower support, says Dr Cranstoun.

Oats

NO NEW varieties appear in either the spring or winter oat Lists – instead the committee has brandished the scissors and performed radical pruning.

Winter oats Viscount, Image, and Aintree disappear, and long but stiffish strawed Kingfisher is promoted to full recommendation. A decision on winter naked oat Icon (Semundo) was deferred.

The addition of Firth spring oat last year set a new standard, and the three spring candidates – Adler, Arkle and Chantilly – all failed to hit the mark. Aberglen, Valiant and Sailor are removed; Revisor goes to outclassed. Winston is promoted to full recommendation.

Winter rape

RAPE growers may be more shocked by whats heading off the 2001 List, than by whats being put on. Firm favourite Apex goes to the outclassed section – something of a cold shower for a variety which still takes about half the acreage.

"The committee felt it was their duty to signal Apexs lower performance and poor disease resistance to the industry," says NIABs Simon Kightley. Certainly theres a host of excellent new varieties on this years List, hybrid and conventional.

Two new conventional rapes are provisionally recommended for the whole UK: Recital (Novartis Seeds) jumps into a strong lead on conventional output, ahead of current hybrids, and shows excellent disease resistance including an 8 for phoma stem canker, which has become the scourge of southern crops.

Recital is a weaker stemmed type; for those who prefer a shorter, stiffer and more manageable plant model, then Canberra (Monsanto) looks the ticket. Output matches Escort, and disease profile is good. Canberra is slightly earlier maturing than Recital.

Choice within the hybrid sector expands with five new varieties, including yet another new type: the top cross hybrid, in the shape of Spirit (Novartis Seeds). Like three-way crosses, this hybrid segregates in the field into sterile and pollen producing plants. Spirit is recommended for the north, where it does best. Its a tall stiff type, with similar maturity to Synergy. Stem canker is a weakness but in the north this isnt an issue.

Fully restored hybrid Royal (Novartis Seeds) brings the yield advantage firmly back to the hybrid sector, with a big jump in output (8% ahead of market leader Pronto). Early maturity and good standing power are benefits; disease resistance could be better but Royal has done well in untreated trials.

Just a little behind on output, new restored hybrid Disco (Saaten Union) is ahead on disease resistance. Its a high oil, low glucosinolate type: "Just what the crushers want to see," says Mr Kightley.

Two "super" varietal associations, where the pollinator and male-sterile partners are both hybrids, enter the List. They are both from CPB Twyford. Provisionally recommended in the north and central regions where output is best, Complex is exceptionally stiff, but tall with good disease resistance. Agenda is more of Gemini type, but shorter. It has robust disease resistance and wins provisional recommendation UK-wide.

A decision on Shannon was deferred for more information on regional performance. Other changes to the List are: Contact joins Apex as outclassed; Boston, Lightning and Gazelle are removed; Gemini, Escort and Herald are promoted to full recommendation with Herald for the north; Lipton and Cohort move to regional recommendations in the north-central and central-south respectively.

Newly recommended cereal varieties for 2001

WINTER WHEAT

Biscay 104 CPB Twyford

Hard feed with export potential thanks to good hagberg and specific weight. Weakish straw, yellow rust control required

Deben 106 Nickerson UK

Soft wheat, higher yielding sister to Claire but for niche milling outlets rather than biscuits. Tall and weaker strawed, excellent untreated yield. Doesnt share Claires eyespot resistance

Option 103 PBIC Seeds

Higher yielding, Group 2 Rialto replacement with more reliable hagberg and seemingly no ergot problems. Mildew management needed, but good against yellow rust

Tanker 107 Elsoms Seeds

Powerful yield performance from this short, stiff hard feed; good septoria programme a must, but yellow rust is not a threat

SPRING WHEAT

Ashby 105(s) 106 (a) CPB Twyford

Included on both the conventional spring list and the new autumn-sown list. Good grain quality; some breadmaking indicated

Morph 105 (a) Nickerson UK

Unusual for a spring type in that it is short and stiff. Included on the autumn-sown list; promising breadmaking rating; weak against septoria and lowish specific weight and protein

Wallace 107 (a) PBIC Seeds

Included on autumn-sown list where it has highest yield; good disease resistance and some breadmaking potential but low protein

WINTER BARLEY

Avenue 103 Advanta Seeds

BaYMV resistant feed, bold grains, better against mildew than Antonia; tall

Haka 104 CPB Twyford

Huge grained, early maturing feed barley with excellent disease resistance

Leonie 100 Advanta Seeds

Top malting quality plus virus resistance from this German-bred barley earns it a special use recommendation. Short, stiff straw and low 1000 grain weight

Opal 103 Nickerson UK

A Pearl type malting barley but with earlier maturity, short, stiff straw and better untreated yield

Sumo 105 New Farm Crops

Powerful yield performance from this two row feed. Latish maturity; moderate disease profile

SPRING BARLEY

Cellar 103 New Farm Crops

Top malting potential and high yield. Reasonable standing power and moderately early maturity

County 105 New Farm Crops

High treated and untreated yield. Later maturing. Some malting quality but in reality should be compared against feed barleys

Pewter 103 New Farm Crops

Outstanding disease resistance including rhyncho but not brown rust. Short straw. Some malting quality