29 November 1996

Wheat additions help to balance portfolio – NIAB

Four new winter wheats but only one winter barley have achieved UK Recommended List status this autumn. Andrew Blake reports

A BREAD-MAKING winter wheat which shrinks the yield gap between feed and quality types is among the four new names to join the 1997 UK Recommended List.

The new varieties, all provisionally recommended, are among changes described by the National Institute of Agricultural Botanys John Ramsbottom as quite significant and reflecting growers requirements in an increasingly volatile market.

"We really need a balanced portfolio, including feed wheats."

Abbot from PBI Cambridge has already had widespread end-user messages of support as a potential bread-maker, says Mr Ramsbottom. With a 5% yield edge over Hereward, good protein, high Hagberg and specific weight above 76kg/hl it has all the attributes required, he suggests. "It pushes along yield but retains quality." It also has good disease resistance.

Charger from the same breeder is seen as an added-value variety in the Rialto mould but with slightly higher yield and generally better disease resistance, especially against mildew and yellow rust. Standing power is not as good as Rialto, but it gives a useful alveograph P/L reading, says Mr Ramsbottom. "British Cereal Exports support it as an export variety." Its potential as a bread-maker is still being examined.

Equinox from CPB Twyford is a hard feed wheat with Brigadier type output but shorter, stiffer straw and better disease resistance. It shares top rating for standing power with only one other listed variety. "It is a significant advance in terms of straw strength," says Mr Ramsbottom.

Lodging has not been much of problem, especially in the south, in recent years. "But it remains a central concern as it reduces yield, slows harvest and is detrimental to quality." Equinox is susceptible to a new race of yellow rust, but adult plant field tests are still needed to determine its resistance rating.

The same comment about yellow rust applies to Madrigal, also from CPB Twyford, which gets on to the list with a provisional regional recommendation for the north-east. "Otherwise its disease resistance is quite strong." A soft milling type with potential for distilling, it is said to have been well received in the north, outyielding Riband by 3%.

Among other changes, Buster gets full special recommendation on the strength of its very stiff straw and top yellow rust resistance. Soissons becomes fully recommended for the south-east and south-west on the basis of its earliness and bread-making potential.

Beaufort, Dynamo, Encore, Hunter and long time favoured bread-maker Mercia are all becoming outclassed, says NIAB.

Team effort creates the UK Recommended Lists, the cereals version here held by the HGCAs Chris Rawlinson. On his right is Roger Turner of the British Society of Plant Breeders. NIABs cereals specialists Richard Fenwick (left) and John Ramsbottom bear the sheaves.