Triticale and winter linseed blends could be two routes around spiralling grain prices.
WITH wheat prices forecast at £80/t thisharvest, rising to £85-£90 by the year 2000, farming becomes a case of managing the margins of profitability, predicts Dalgety.
At its Farming Future open day last month it demonstrated the part played by the Throws Farm research facility in fulfilling its principle to create added value solutions.
One such solution might be triticale, said David Neale, national cereal seed product manager.
"It can perform as well or better than wheat, and with low inputs," he claimed. "Last year the variety Binova outyielded each and every variety in both first and third wheat trials."
He said the future for the variety looked rosy, with an increasing usage by animal feed compounders and also by the companys petfood business. "It represents value to both ends of the supply chain."
He predicted that the 6,000ha (15,000 acres) in the ground this season would treble next year.
As well as trawling for future varieties, Throws Farm provides a practical farm situation in which to analyse strengths and weaknesses of newly introduced ones. Where a definite link is established, for example on drilling dates, a message accompanies delivery notes.
One area where agronomy is still being established is winter linseed. The farm forms one of the sites for HGCA funded work establishing the interactions between nitrogen and growth regulator applications.
Mike Jeffes, arable technical development manager, said. "Theres also some way to go towards an understanding of drilling dates for winter linseed.
"But it looks as though its better earlier – late September/early October – than mid/late October. As with oilseed rape, its a case of promoting a big enough plant to survive the winter."
What was becoming apparent were differences in plant type, the prostrate varieties being more winter hardy than those which were more erect. So work at Throws Farm this year looks for the first time to see whether blends of the two types produce a more stable result than the individual varieties.
Arctica, bred in France by Fontaine Cany and marketed by Dalgety ISP, is one of the more erect, which is one of the reasons it wasnt as winter hardy as Oliver. But Nordica, from the same breeder and set to take over from Arctica, is more prostrate.
However, warned Mr Jeffes, winter linseed had yet to endure a wet, windy winter where the tough linseed stems could whip round to form a mini crater which might then fill with water and induce rots. In this situation, the prostrate varieties might be at a disadvantage.
The theory of the blend is that, whatever the problems of the season, the mixed population provides a buffer, with the surviving plants acting as nurse to the afflicted ones.
"If we can produce the crop consistently at 22-23cwt/acre, then winter linseed will begin to compete strongly with winter rape, attracting more area aid and saving on growing costs.