This year’s Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) Recommended List for 2015/16 sees 28 varieties joining it and 27 leaving.
This may seem an extraordinary level of churn but, according to Simon Oxley, who manages the list, it is a necessary part of offering choice for growers across the country and the end markets they supply.
Dr Oxley said: “I don’t think it is a case of putting too many varieties on the list.
“We might more fairly be criticised for leaving varieties on for too long. There are always a number of hangers-on, especially for use in Scotland.
“For example, we would be criticised for taking Viscount off the list because it is a popular wheat in Scotland and growers want to see how it compares with newer varieties in terms of agronomic factors and disease resistance.”
He added: “ The HGCA Recommended List is a risk-management tool, providing independent information to the grower, agronomist and end-user on the variety performance in terms of both agronomy and quality, based on data over several seasons, soil types and sow dates.
“Making greater use of the Recommended List trials for disease monitoring during the current season provides an opportunity to make the industry aware of changes as they occur.”
Dr Oxley stressed the importance of showing treated and untreated yields. The new Group 3 soft wheat variety RGT Conversion, for instance, showed good untreated yield indicating that it would still perform reasonably well without fungicides.
“There are challenges with fungicides, so we do not want to go for varieties simply with a high potential treated yield,” he said.
Britannia is the highest-yielding Group 3 variety on the new list suitable for biscuits and with provisional export potential. It has good resistance to yellow rust and septoria tritici, but attention is required to manage straw strength.
RGT Conversion has a yield similar to existing Group 3 varieties but, importantly for Scotland, it also has good distilling characteristics, achieving a high alcohol yield.
Winter barley growers have a choice of two new feed varieties for the UK, with a six-row conventional feed variety, Daxor, and a two-row feed variety, KWS Infinity.
Daxor combines a high yield and stiffer straw than current conventional six-row feed varieties.
KWS Infinity raises the two-row feed yield, with no compromise on maturity, straw strength or specific weight.
Spring malting barley sees a total of seven new varieties. Sienna, Vault and Octavia have dual use potential for brewing and malt distilling. Olympus may be suitable for malt and grain distilling, and Deveron for malt distilling.
For oilseed rape, new varieties offer improved yield. The variety V316OL is a first for the HGCA Recommended List for oilseeds, combining high yields in both UK regions and a good agronomic package with high quality food-grade oil.
Mentor is the only new oilseed rape on the list which has resistance to clubroot.