20t/ha wheat potential among the highlights of Cereals 2008 crop plots

There is no better opportunity to see the latest scientific research in action than at Cereals 2008, which is being held near Leadenham, Lincolnshire on 11-12 June.

A total of 33 companies will be presenting more than 90 sown crop plots, which will give visitors direct contact with some of the country’s leading researchers, plant breeders and technical managers, many of who will be in the crop plots for both days of the event.

“The scope of technical content and the calibre of the crop plots are hugely impressive and will bring current R&D to life in a field situation,” says Jon Day, from Cereals event organisers Haymarket Exhibitions.

“The effort put in by exhibitors to these ‘living demonstrations’ highlights the value of the Cereals event as an effective way of transferring knowledge from the lab and trials programmes in to farm practice.”

Here are some of the crop plot highlights to look out for:

Wheat genetics
Rothamsted’s ‘Tall stories’ plot probes the heart of the current work underway in wheat genetics. Based on the Rht genes (dwarfing or reduced-height gene at the heart of the ‘green revolution’), there will be mutant plants on display (ranging from slightly dwarfed to very stunted).

The questions surrounding these plots are: “is the current height of wheat optimal for resource use efficiency and yield?” and is the 20t/ha wheat crop a fantasy or a potential reality?

The HGCA will have eight ‘Breeder’s corner’ crop plots showing the latest results from two genetic-based projects (wheat and barley), focussing on old versus new variety yields and relative levels of disease control.

Disease resistance
Rothamsted will also be discussing new sources of disease resistance, specifically septoria and take-all in wheat. The take-all work is part of the Wheat Genetic Improvement Network (WGIN) project looking at diploid wheats. The concept is that old diploid wheats contained a high natural resistance to fungal diseases, but has not been fully exploited in current breeding programmes. The work asks if these resistance traits could be re-introduced into modern varieties at a crucial time given the increased area of second and continuous wheat.

NIAB will be looking at low input production and novel methods in plant breeding.

New varieties
Nickerson will have 16 new varieties in their crop plots (14 of which are candidates), including six new HGCA Candidate winter wheat varieties, of which, Panorama, Walpole and QPlus are selected as potential bread-making varieties, Cassius as a potential biscuit-making variety, and feed varieties Lear and Bantam.

Nickerson will also have Buckingham, a new spring wheat variety with Group 1 bread-making potential. There will be two new HGCA winter barley candidates, Daybreak (selected as potential malting variety) and Karioka (selected as feed variety); plus three new HGCA spring barley candidates, Concerto, Berlioz, Virgil (all selected as potential malting varieties).

Oilseed rape
For visitors growing winter oilseed rape, there will be two new HGCA candidate varieties, Emerson and Mallory; and for pea growers, Falstaff a newly recommended marrowfat pea will also be on show.

Grainseed Ltd will be demonstrating the new rape variety Es Alienor. Hailed as a ‘hi tech, low biomass’ variety, it is just one of four conventional varieties in current candidate HGCA Recommended National Trials, and has been one of the all-round top performers. According to Richard Fenwick, Es Alienor ‘has an excellent set of plant characteristics, including very good resistance to light leaf spot and stem canker’. Combined disease rating is unmatched by any other variety, conventional or hybrid, in HGCA trials. Gross output is similar to that of Castille.

Pioneer will be launching two new winter oilseed rape varieties. The first, PR46W21 is a full Candidate for the 2009 HGCA RL. The second, PR44W22 has been selected as a southern Candidate for the HGCA RL Trials.

Oilseed rape varieties will take centre stage on DSV’s stand at Cereals 2008, with particular emphasis given to the benefits of hybrids such as Flash – the highest gross output variety available.

Try it for yourself
KWS Ltd will have master baker John Haynes producing bread, biscuit and cake products from KWS UK wheat varieties on the stand for visitors to try. All the varieties in the bakery (except Malacca) can also be seen growing outside in the KWS plots.

Visitors to the stand will also be able to sample doughnuts and Chelsea buns from Viscount, the Group 3 which is likely to secure UKS rating for export and above average distilling potential. Also try bread rolls from Zircon, the white grained alternative wheat which produces pale coloured flour from milled wholegrain. Or how about Robigus scones, muffins and cookies, or French sticks baked from Cordiale, now the UK’s second most widely-sown breadmaking wheat.

Finally, give the wholemeal bread and white rolls from Malacca a try. This group 1 tried and tested variety is used in a wide array of milling grists with continued excellent baking performance in the UK and abroad.

RAGT will be focusing on wheat suitable for early drilling and early harvest and using suitable varieties to reduce workload. There will be seven crop plots, six of wheat and one of spring barley.

Varieties in the crop plots will be: Battalion, Gladiator, Marksman, Ambrosia, Mascot, Shogun (new feed wheat candidate for RL) and Toucan (spring barley). The main focus will be on three varieties, Battalion suitable for breadmaking markets and the early sown and second wheat slot, the feed wheat Gladiator and the newly recommended Group 2 breadmaking variety, Marksman, suited to situations where an early maturing crop is needed.

Grainfarmers will be demonstrating new wheat varieties Viscount and Limerick in the context of growing the two varieties as potential premium earners.

Discover the benefits of oats
Senova’s Just Oats stand will discuss oat variety and crop development innovation, demonstrated in growing plots and technical and financial comparisons will be provided.

More people are going naked! Increased interest in high energy naked oats had led to increased usage in livestock feed and poultry industry representatives will be extolling their benefits in feed rations.

Also, new opportunities that are emerging from the release of set aside land and increase the place for oats in the rotation. Increasing NVZ areas will also open up opportunities for a wider cropping of oats. There will also be marketers will be on hand to take prospective growers through various contracts and trading options.