Top of the plots

4 September 1999

Top of the plots

Results are in from the NIAB winter oilseed rape and barley plots. Tom Allen-Stevens reveals which varieties are the stars of 1999.

Winter oilseed rape

IF YOU are growing a hybrid winter rape this year and youve chosen Gemini, pat yourself on the back – its the star performer of 99. Escort and Madrigal top the conventional class.

NIABs Simon Kightley has been sifting his way through the harvest results from the variety plots: "Gemini has done particularly well this year. Overall, were seeing hybrids performing consistently better than they have," he notes.

Some outclassed varieties have made it into the top 10 (see table). But he points out that there are very few rape varieties that are recommended over the whole country anyway.

Lodging has been less of a problem this year. "Theres more advice around this year, so the problem is being addressed through agronomic practice and better management."

The hybrid plots stood better than the conventional ones; the canopy may lean over as harvest approaches, but at flowering the stem remains stiff lower down, and thats what counts.

Apex is still the best stander among conventional varieties, but yielded only a poor 94% of mean this year. Madrigal and Escort are rather weak-stemmed when sown thickly and Mr Kightley urges growers to drop seed rates on these two.

The big disease in the south was stem canker this year. Fortunately crops ripened too quickly for it to take hold. But he points out that Synergy is particularly susceptible, Escort fairly resistant.

In the north, light leaf spot was the main problem, and large varietal differences can be seen. In the untreated trials Madrigal comes out top of the conventional varieties, and does best in the four-year mean. Hybrids can be more disease-prone, but Mr Kightley points out that their untreated yield still exceeds Madrigals.

Oil content can determine crop return, with every percent over 40% gaining a l.5% premium. Boston sets the standard here, with a content of 44.3% oil. Apex scored 43.6% and Synergy was the highest hybrid with 43.3%.

Winter barley

SUMMING up the results from the winter barley plots, NIABs Richard Fenwick has clear advice for growers who want performance: "If youre looking for out-and-out yield, the six-rows are the ones to go for," he says.

At 112% of mean, Siberia is the star performer (see table). This is a new variety that is yet to be listed and will be considered this November. "Its very stiff-strawed and it yields tremendously well," maintains Mr Fenwick.

Pastoral was the best performing two-row. Mr Fenwick is surprised at this result and believes the variety just happened to have a good year. "Weve started using strobilurins in the plots for the first time this year, so that may have something to do with it," he suggests.

Following close behind are Regina, Pearl, and Jewel which are much more consistent performers. Gleam has also had a good year.

There has been much less lodging in the barley plots this year, compared to previous years. Mr Fenwick points to this as one reason why the six-rows have done well – some of them are weak-strawed. It has also meant that Heligan and Vertige have performed less well (99% of mean), being stiff-strawed varieties that perform well in adverse conditions.

As far as quality is concerned, higher yields have meant lower nitrogens. However, Mr Fenwick points out that maltsters are tending to buy relatively high nitrogen barleys – around l.6% – and growers may wish to tailor growing and variety to match. Regina and Pearl suit this market well.

In the feed market, six-row barleys can be hard to trade off farm. "The resulting grain can be very small, often slipping over the back of the combine and contaminating the following crop. They make a good home mix, though," says Mr Fenwick.

There were few disease surprises this year – all varieties performed as the NIAB list suggests they would. Regina is susceptible to yellow rust, but it was not a problem this year. Flute, although a poor performer in the treated plots at 96% of mean, has excellent disease resistance, so was one of the leaders in the untreated plots.

Oilseed rape Winter barley

Yield Type Yield Type

Gemini 111 Hybrid Siberia 112 6 row

Pronto 105 Hybrid Manitou 110 6 row

Synergy 105 Hybrid Angela 107 6 row

Escort 102 Conventional Muscat 105 6 row

Artus* 102 Hybrid Pastoral 104 2 row

Madrigal 100 Conventional Regina 103 2 row

Lipton 99 Conventional Gleam 103 2 row

Licrown* 99 Conventional Pearl 103 2 row

Meteor* 98 Conventional Jewel 103 2 row

Contact** 98 Conventional Hanna 102 2 row

* Outclassed ** Only recommended in the south

Source: NIAB

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