8 December 2000

Spring barley sowings being forecast to cover record area

IMPOSSIBLE drilling conditions this autumn will lead to record sowings of spring barley, warns one breeder. But not all varieties will serve growers equally well.

"The area could reach 650,000ha," says New Farm Crops Gary Mills Thomas. "That would be the highest level for about 12 years."

Huge areas of Scotlands arable land are devoid of winter crops and less winter oilseed rape has been planted than during the last difficult autumn two years ago. Also, linseed is no longer a viable option, he says.

In England, Optics dominance is set to increase, taking 60% of the area, he predicts. Chariots slice will slide to 7%, and NFCs newcomer Tavern will take 4%.

"There is plenty of seed available," he comments. Tavern, and the firms feed newcomer Static, are expected to trade at a similar price to Optic, which is fetching £250-260/t dressed. Both offer a yield and disease advantage.

Taverns treated yield is 103 against Optics 100, and with a combined mildew, rhynchosporium, brown rust and BYDV score of 30, its disease resistance is also superior.

"With rhynchosporium resistance rated at 6 it is the highest of any listed varieties."

The variety has provisional IOB approval and is provisionally recommended for central, southeast and southwest regions. Standing power is scored at 8 and the large grain size could help maltsters sales overseas.

"Weve noticed Tavern has a particularly large grain size. It is a variety we could use for making malt for export," acknowledges Crisp Maltings Bob King.

Static tops the spring barley recommended list for yield at 104 treated to Rivieras 102. Resistance to mildew, rhynchosporium, yellow rust and brown rust is rated at nine, five, six and eight respectively. Standing power is rated at eight and straw shortness six.

"Thats one of the compromises. If it was taller it would fall over," says Mr Mills-Thomas. &#42

Tavern and Static offer spring barley growers big benefits, says NFCs Gary Mills-Thomas (left). Taverns bold grain and good malt quality impress Crisp Maltings Bob King. Seed supplies are good.

SPRING BARLEY LAUNCH

&#8226 Record plantings probable.

&#8226 Tavern and Static newcomers.

&#8226 Top malting and feed yields.

&#8226 Plenty of seed available.