19 August 1997

Regina most attractive winter barley option

WINTER barleys earliness edge over wheat has been reinforced this harvest, with Regina set to be the main beneficiary of continued interest in the crop.

"Given the need for a balanced rotation, spread of workload, cash flow and the continued enhancement of combined yield and quality, the crop still holds a strong position with growers," says Dalgetys David Neale.

"Barley was combined early, is in the barn and rape drilled behind it."

Main varietal change for next harvest, according to Dalgetys forecast, is a surge for Regina from a 7% to a 22% share of the market.

Pure feed varieties, which accounted for 55% of 1997 sales, are expected to be the main casualties, with Fighter, Pastoral and Intro, which between them had nearly 40% of the market last year, slipping to 26%.

Fanfare is expected to drop to 7% from 10% last year, but Gleam will rise a couple of points to gain an 8% share.

Halcyon, with a similar share, and to a lesser degree Pipkin, remain the benchmarks for quality producers, says Mr Neale. "But premiums still need to reflect the increasing yield differential to maintain their long-term position."

Growers faced with barley yellow mosaic virus should not lose sight of varieties like Muscat, Epic, Gleam and newcomer Jewel as offering armoury against what can be a big problem, he adds.