Early indications from the HGCA Recommended List trials harvest results for spring barley indicate that yields are slightly below the five-year average at 6.89t/ha.
However, HGCA’s RL manager Simon Oxley says that the earliest trials to be harvested won’t necessarily reflect the resilts that will follow later.
“It’s early days, but the highest yielders over the past four years have performed well and, in particular, Odyssey looks interesting, having dual approval for both distilling and brewing and yielding on a level with feed varieties,” he explains.
The variety therefore gives growers the flexibility of three different markets, without compromising on yield, he adds.
For out-and-out feed, Westminster remains popular and continues to provide good disease resistance and tall straw, which is why it is suitable for feed.
However, Dr Oxley believes it is outclassed on yield and there is a wide choice of high-yielding varieties for growers that could be suitable replacements.
“Any replacement may not be as tall as Westminster, though, which may put off some who are growing for straw yield,” he says.
“The feed variety Shada is yielding well in 2014, but it’s more susceptible to rhynchosporium.”
Oilseed rape trials have also been harvested in the northern region, from Teesside to Aberdeenshire, and yields have been encouraging, averaging 5.73t/ha.
A site in Edinburgh even touched 6.25t/ha and Dr Oxley says that top yielders Incentive, Anastasia and Boheme have all proved their worth again in 2014.
“The one to stand out is the high oleic, low linoleic (Holl) variety V3160L, yielding 109% of control.
“It is the first time that we have seen a quality oil variety with a yield comparable with the best on the list,” he says.
Cracker is a variety that has clubroot resistance and has been a solution for oilseed rape growers where the soil-borne brassica disease has built up on their land.
However, Dr Oxley notes that it has been outclassed in recent years and its four-year average is now just 97% of control.
“Growers need to start to look at their rotation and perhaps extend the interval between oilseed rape crops until a higher yielding Cracker replacement comes along.”