4 September 1998

Weakness in winter wheat

UNUSUAL weather may have highlighted a promising winter wheats Achilles heel.

Unexpectedly low Hagberg in quality variety Cantata (Arable Aug 28) could be due to its interaction with cool, moist weather in late July, says Peter Kettlewell, leader of an HGCA-funded project at Harper Adams College to predict grain quality.

Tests on Cantata from ADAS Bridgets which scored a Hagberg of just 134, found the quality wrecking alpha-amylase enzyme in the crease of the grain rather than the more normal association with embryo sprouting.

"We know Cantata had a very low Hagberg at Bridgets, but we havent seen any official results yet and in our own crops we have seen no problems," says Sean Gardner, of Cantata breeder PBI Cambridge.

Early results from NIAB sites in Kent, Cambs and Glos suggests Cantatas Hagberg relative to other varieties is similar to last year. The figures for Hereward and Cantata are 288 and 267 compared with 311 and 287 in 1997, says John Ramsbottom. &#42