Grain farmers have been on the look-out for a promising new malting barley variety to offer some competition to the current virtual one-horse race for supplying the distilling trade for some years.
However, as the new recommended lists for 2017-18 growing seasons were released yesterday by the Agricultural & Horticultural Development Board (AHDB), producers were told that while two newcomers might rise to that challenge, at the moment growers should “wait and see” for one variety – and “wait a little longer” for the other.
Revealing the latest lists, Dr Simon Oxley, the AHDB’s senior research manager, said that while Laureate – which offered an 11 per cent yield advantage over the current mainstay variety, Concerto – had now been moved from provisional to full recommendation, the variety’s acceptability to the distillers would be key to its future popularity.
Dioptric had also been recommended for the north as a high yielding type, with a high specific weight, short straw with good resistance to brackling and good resistance to both mildew and ramularia. However, the variety was currently a year behind Laureate in tests for distilling.
Meanwhile, on the soft wheat front, it was revealed that growers could be spoilt for choice, with no fewer than five new varieties suitable for Scotland coming on to the list, the first for four years.
“This year, northern growers aiming for distilling markets have some exciting new varieties to consider,” said Oxley.
LG Sundance and LG Motown had been given recommendations for the whole of the UK while Savello and Hardwicke were recommended for the north region. Meanwhile, Moulton offered a dual-purpose attraction as it was also suitable for the export trade.
Oxley said that changes in the yellow rust population last season had seen the ratings of some recommended wheat varieties fall - but he added this year’s new entrants showed good resistance to the disease.
He added that, while producers had experience of older varieties and knew how to handle them, the recently introduced rating for overall agronomic risk – which gave a weighting to various factors and then collated them under one over-arching figure – would help growers assess the suitability to their own management regimes.
He added that early adopters would be encouraged by the fact that the new varieties fell into the low risk category.