19 May 2000

Wheats to cope at £60/t

By Andrew Swallow

New-variety Milestone is a wheat that will help growers cope with prices at £60/t, claimed breeder Cebeco Seed Innovations at its launch last week.

The variety is the first product of the firms UK-specific breeding programme at Downham Market, which was started in 1991. All varieties to come from that programme will have stiff straw, and good all-round disease resistance, says breeder Stephen Smith.

"Our programme is only going to be producing eights and nines for standing power," he stresses.

Milestone is no exception, rated at 8/9 by the breeder. It is resistant to yellow and brown rust, rated at about six for septoria resistance, and four for eyespot.

Treated yield in National List trials was equal to Consort and Claire, but 2% below Savannah. That means NIAB did not select it to go on to recommended list trials, as it is only a hard-milling feed variety, says Cebeco managing director Gerry Cook.

"A straight feed variety would have to be at least one point better than Savannah. But the point Id make is that NIAB do high-input trials." Untreated, Milestones yield was 10% higher than Savannah, and 2% higher than Claire in the NL work, he adds.

In independent commercial trials, it performed better – topping the yield table in Harlow Agricultural Merchants plots, and falling only 0.1t/ha behind the top two varieties in Crop Cares trials, Consort and Eclipse.

Mid-January is the latest safe sowing-date for Milestone, and it can be drilled moderately early, so emergence is no earlier than mid-September, advises the company. Winter growth habit is described as prostrate.

"But once it wakes up, it grows very fast and tillers enormously," says Mr Smith. "There should be no problem with reducing seed rates."

About 3000t of C2 seed should be available from seven distributor companies this autumn. &#42

Cebeco Wheats

&#8226 First from UK programme.

&#8226 Top standing and resistance aim.

&#8226 Products of fertile fen sites.

&#8226 Allow lower input costs.

Farmer-friendly wheats

On view at Cereals 2000 and in second-year NL trials are the next three so-called "Farmer Friendly" wheats which Cebeco plans to launch from its UK breeding programme:

Richmond is a hard feed wheat which matched Savannah in treated NL trials last year, but outstripped it by 7% on Cebecos own high-yield site. Untreated NL results put it 27% above Savannah.

Woburn is a biscuit wheat which beat Consort yields by 6% across three Cebeco sites, but in treated NL results it yielded 1% less than Consort. "That shook us," admits Mr Cook. But in untreated NL trials it topped Consort by 21%.

Chatsworth is a potential group 2 variety, matching Rialto yields in treated NL work and 1% higher in untreated. But standing power, as with Richmond and Woburn, is a 9, compared with Rialtos 6.