New high weight wheat might cut rejection risk

15 March 2002

Yield good from bad seed-bed

RICHMOND drilled into a dreadful seed-bed after late lifted sugar beet yielded more than wheat drilled in good conditions at the conventional time last year on one Norfolk farm.

"Our 11.4ha went into an appalling seed-bed on Dec 19, yet produced 9.7t/ha compared with the farm average last season of 9.5t," says Nick Crane, of Hugh Crane Ltd, Hall Farm, Upton, near Norwich.

"On Sept 1 we harvested a bold sample of beautiful grain with a specific weight of 75.2kg/hl, when the rest of the wheat averaged 72."

The 900ha (2223-acre) medium loam farm grows 283ha (700 acres) of wheat, all on seed contracts for 10 of the latest varieties.

"Over the years I have grown lots of new wheat varieties and seen many of them disappear after a single year. But I like the look of Richmond and am growing it on the same field again this year," says Mr Crane. &#42

A NEW winter wheat variety that produces grain with a high specific weight may be absent from the 2002 HGCA Recommended List.

But it could help cut the risk of rejections and price discounts in poor seasons, believes the leading grower who bred the variety.

Richmond, a hard endosperm type, was bred by Cebecos Steve Smith in Norfolk by crossing Brigadier with Flame in 1992.

"In official trials, its specific weight at 78.3kg/hl was only beaten by Group 1 bread-making varieties," he says. "It has been bred to be a reliable and farmer-friendly variety. Because it combines stiff straw with a good package of disease resistances it is a candidate for low input systems."

With grain protein of about 12% and Hagberg of 250+, the company believes it has wide appeal and should prove to be as marketable as soft biscuit varieties. It does not have the translocated rye chromosome that is in most other Group 4 types, so is suitable for poultry rations.

But NIAB felt the variety lacked the yield needed for a modern Group 4 feed type. "With a treated yield of 102, Richmond is not up with the best of the feeders, such as 104 for Napier, Deben and Tanker," says NIAB cereal specialist Richard Fenwick. "It is just off the pace. Its specific weight, at just over 78kg/hl, is top of the pops of the feed varieties, but this is offset by a 2% yield deficit."

But Richmond has other useful features, such as short straw of reasonable strength, early maturity, and no real disease weaknesses, he adds.

Cebeco says it has been tested and approved for value-added export markets. British Cereal Exports believes it will find a slot overseas. "It is basically a Group 4 variety with something extra," says BCEs Andrew Flux. "It has export pretensions and although not a first choice variety it will find an export market."

New high weight wheat might cut rejection risk

Nick Crane is hoping his Richmond for seed will repeat last years good performance on his Norfolk farm.

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