6 September 1996

Winter varieties much as expected

WINTER wheat varieties are performing much as expected in National Institute of Agricultural Botany trials this season.

But with results from only five of its 25 sites to hand so far, hard information to help growers fine-tune autumn sowing decisions is thin on the ground, admits cereals specialist Richard Fenwick.

NIABs third issue of Cereals Varplan 97 says early signs are that mean yields are 1t/ha (0.4t/ acre) up on the long-term average. Output of the control varieties harvested at the five sites is 10.68t/ha (4.25t/acre) against 9.65t/ha (3.84t/acre) from 160 trials over the past five years, including this seasons results.

All but two of the 30 varieties on test differ little from their long-term means relative to the control varieties. Anything less than a 4% difference should be treated with caution, says NIAB.

Only Beaufort, doing rather better than usual with a score of 106 against its long-term figure of 102, and Cadenza, doing rather worse at 91 against 96, register the 4% difference. And Mr Fenwick is hard to put to account for this in either variety.

"It is unexplained, really. It must just be the season. But it is still early days."

The only other variety to record anything approaching a significant difference, in this case 3%, is Raleigh, which recorded 106 this year against 103 previously. &#42