Thelatest recommendations on cereal varieties are now available to growers on theScotlands Rural College website. The SRUC Recommended List gives up to dateadvice on the varieties best suited to conditions in Scotland and the north ofEngland. According to Dr Steve Hoad of SRUC Crop and Soil Systems, this yearslist reflects changes in both the market and growers needs.
Itcan be reached on http://www.sruc.ac.uk/recommendedcereals
Aswith all new varieties, it is important to check any quality specificationswith each customer, he says. Judgements about yield and grain quality shouldbe balanced with other features important to your farm, such as earliness ofripening, disease risk, stiffness of straw and the ability of the plant to copewith ear loss or sprouting caused by bad harvest weather.
Forsome growers an additional factor to consider in their choices will be thereformed CAP regulations due to come into effect in 2015. As part of theproposed greening of the CAP farmers must grow at least three different cropsin order to support greater biodiversity. Some Scottish growers have complainedof being forced to reduce production of a crop for which there is a market inorder to comply with environmental concerns. However for the purposes of theregulations spring sown and winter sown barleys are regarded as differentcrops, possibly offering some flexibility.
Accordingto Steve Hoad growers should find some promising new names being added to thelist over the next 2-3 years, although they will have to compete with somelong-standing favourites.
Amongstthe spring malting barley varieties, four, Concerto, Optic, Belgravia andPropino dominate and have filled more than 90% of the maltsters demand, hesays, noting that in 2013, by far the largest intake was with Concerto at morethan 50% market share. However the big four are supported by another grouparound which there has been either niche or growing interest. These are Moonshine,Odyssey, Overture and Glassel.
KWSIrina and Shaloo are two new spring varieties developed more for brewing thandistilling, but they have raised the bar on yield. Also very high yielding is anew feed barley called Shada.
Farmersfaced with having to adapt their regime to comply with forthcoming CAP reformsmay be considering if winter sown barleys can be included in their plantings.KWS Glacier (added last year) and two new varieties Cavalier and KWS Towercombine high yield and good specific weight.
Whilebarley continues to be the main cereal crop grown in Scotland wheat is alsoimportant. According to Steve Hoad there is now a wide choice of so called softGroup 4 (distilling type) wheat varieties. Last years additions to the list,Leeds and Myriad have been joined by another new entry, Twister. All three ofthese are approved for use in distilling and look competitive against the moreestablished varieties.
Amongstthe wheat varieties selected for biscuit making, two new varieties Icon andZulu have been added to the list and both also offer opportunities in thedistilling market.
Whilethis years list is complete those working in the trial sites will continue toselect new options. On that basis several new milling quality winter wheats, aswell as new oat and spring wheat varieties are under consideration, but adecision has been deferred until further information is provided.
Therecommendations made by SRUC are based on data collected as part of the HGCARecommended Lists system. Members of the Scottish Variety ConsultativeCommittee (Cereals) provide further advice and other input about varieties thatmake up the Scottish list. The full data collected and the HGCARecommended Lists are available on the HGCA website