By Vicky Houchin

YIELD must be the key factor for varietal choice, and is even more significant at lower grain prices, said David Neale, national cereal seeds product manager for Dalgety, at the companys Harvest Review last week.

“This must be combined with high bushel weight performance and the essential of strong standing power, the latter element being well tested on certain varieties this year,” said Mr Neale.

Increased yellow rust pressure continues to be an important factor, both for this autumn and future years, while breeders need to focus their efforts on improvements in this area, stressed Mr Neale. In the meantime, growers need to exercise care in the control of this problem.

Mr Neale reported a variable harvest for wheat crops, with some still in the field. Free-draining soils have performed well, while heavy land has suffered from greater foot-based diseases. Septoria and Yellow Rust have both been responsible for yield losses, and those weaker-strawed varieties with standing powers of 5 and 6 have been under pressure.

“As we look forward over the next two years, more second wheats will be planted and varietal and seed treatment packages will be key issues,” predicted Mr Neale.

Despite excellent establishment, winter barley yields have been reported as mediocre this year. High tillering and ear counts, combined with shallow rooting, reduced spring nutrient uptake, and wet ripening conditions compounded the problem.

This harvests results have lead to a dramatic reaction in farmers choice of seed for next year, commented Mr Neale. “Reduced seed sales have been experienced throughout the industry, and in some areas by as much as 50%. However, orders are now finally appearing but, at this late stage, reductions of 25-30% cannot be ruled out, creating a dramatic effect in the industry.”