Wheats need consistency

WHEAT GROWERS view consistent crop performance as the most important varietal characteristic according to a survey of 300 growers across the UK.

The survey, conducted by RAGT Seeds in June found that 99% of respondents regarded consistent performance being as important as high official yield rating.

Nearly half (49%) of those saw consistency as being more important than high yield rating.

The most important performance characteristics cited by growers were reliable yield (92% of respondents) and consistent grain quality (81%).

This includes high specific weight, lodging and disease resistance.

“In seeking a reliable variety, growers‘ number one priority is a consistently good yield from year to year,” said study co-ordinator Chris Black of RAGT Seeds.

“Consistently good grain quality is also being sought by over 80% of all growers, including more than two thirds of feed wheat producers,” he added.

Results of the survey also found that 37% of wheat growers viewed Claire as the most reliable of current varieties, closely followed by Consort.

By comparison, Xi19 and Tanker were rated by 7% of respondents as the least reliable varieties.

Mr Black acknowledged that the survey had raised some interesting questions, but remained clear about the challenges faced by plant breeders.

“We need to find ways of helping UK growers ensure the consistent performance they so clearly seek in their wheat varieties today.

“As breeders, we must build varieties around a combination of characters and testing that maximises practical performance consistency as much as trial performance ability.

“Equally, evaluators – both official and trade – should do everything possible to devise better ways of predicting actual field reliability from trial performance.”

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