Recommended Lists – theyre paid for by you
TOO many growers still do not realise that it is their own money which pays for the UK Recom-mended Lists for plant varieties.
So says Chris Rawlinson, of the Home-Grown Cereals Authority, through which industry cash is channelled to create the cereals and oilseeds lists.
Speaking at the launch of the 1997 lists (see p55), Dr Rawlinson said he was amazed at the apparent ignorance in some quarters. "Some quite high ranking people still believe that it is NIAB or MAFF which is paying."
In fact for several years all cereals and oilseeds Recommended List work co-ordinated by the National Institute of Agricultural Botany has been funded from HGCA levies.
Dr Rawlinson claimed he had only recently been talking to the managing director of a large farming company, with interests both here and abroad, who failed to appreciate that he contributed to the lists. "There are still quite a lot of people out there who do not understand where the money is coming from."
Earlier NIABs Jan Ingram outlined the decision making procedure leading to a variety being listed. "The objective is to deliver better varieties to UK agriculture to make it competitive. We go to considerable lengths to get the decisions right." The fact that more than 90% of the winter wheat and barley area is sown to recommended varieties proved the value of the exercise, he said.
He estimated that the 1% compound advances by cereal breeders reflected through the lists has been worth £300m over five years. "We are looking at a powerful system."
According to the SACs David Cranstoun breeders are increasingly willing to withdraw likely also-ran varieties. "On the whole they are remarkably realistic and helpful in identifying their varieties that are not up to the mark."
But not all breeders believe the system is working as well as it might. John Blackman for CPB Twyford said NIABs decisions often seemed random. "You can never predict what they are going to do. We have asked them to be more transparent, but I am not sure we have succeeded."
Frank Curtis for Nickerson Seeds believed there was a greater willingness for breeders and NIAB to work more closely. "But I do not believe the battleship has turned round yet."
(See p58 for more debate between breeders and NIAB.) *
New names on 1997 UK Recommended Lists
Winter wheat Abbot, Charger, Equinox, Madrigal.
Winter barley Rifle.
Winter oats Krypton, Lexicon (both naked).
Winter OSR Artus, Pronto (hybrids), Contact, Herald, Licrown, Lightning, Lipton, Meteor.
Spring wheat Imp.
Spring barley Landlord.
Spring oats Amigo, Drummer, & Bullion (naked).
Spring beans Merkur (coloured), Alpine & Avon (white).
• More detail on p55.