HGCA was asking visitors to this year’s Cereals event to share their opinions on the Recommended List and offer suggestions for improving the service.
Recently the organisation has been criticised that the list could be offering growers a better service, so it is using the event to gauge what farmers really want, says Simon Oxley, Recommended List agronomy manager.
“Growers have such different needs and it’s a challenge to offer something that suits everyone. We’re using the voting forms to get a better idea of what farmers really want.”
The results gathered at Cereals will help HGCA adapt the list to suit grower demands, he says.
Initially, the Recommended List is unlikely to be changed dramatically is at if offers growers choice, but other publications could be added to the offer to give growers specific information in different areas, he notes.
“We want to maintain what we already have and look at ways of accommodating others within the budget. We need to make sure farmers are getting what they want as it’s their levy which pays for it.”
Additional publications could include more detailed regional recommendations or advice on drought tolerant varieties, but this will depend on growers’ feedback, he says.
Leicestershire grower Richard Morris recons the Recommended List contains too many varieties and many of them are in the wrong groups. “In 10 years the number of varieties being recommended has doubled and Hereward, which is grown over a significant area, is no longer on the list.”
He proposes HGCA puts fewer varieties on the list and the quality of those entering it is higher. “Seed merchants have to cherry pick those that they think will satisfy growers and consumers alike and they cannot physically organise the growing and processing of 23 different winter wheat varieties.”
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