A quick summary of the new winter wheat and oat recommended lists would be some changes to values and rankings.
However, that oversimplifies the significance of any of these important characteristic ratings.
The winter wheat list carries the same varieties as last year, the provisionally recommended SY Insitor is now fully recommended and Spearhead has been added with provisional recommendation.
The winter oat list has been downsized from six to three varieties, with Delfin, Keely and RGT Southwark withdrawn.
Thankfully, this has been a good year for yields and this helps interest in these crops and the varieties available.
So, guidance from the recommended list is very important to point out the relative differences across sites and years, while giving disease ratings which are influenced by sites and local climate.
In choosing varieties to grow, yield potential is obviously a very important factor, but perhaps less so than standing power. All characteristics are important, but a variety with very weak straw is unlikely to be recommended, thus mainly leaving a choice between relatively strong-strawed varieties.
Earliness or lateness of ripening are also important to get a spread of maturity
Disease resistance ratings are no less important, especially for early sowing. Good septoria resistance is very useful in a wheat variety to be planted early, but a different problem may emerge if it is also susceptible to yellow rust. So many different variety characteristics are relevant to choice.
Grain quality is important too, especially when delivering load by load.
One observation to consider on individual varieties is relative robustness across sites and years
Earliness or lateness of ripening are also important to get a spread of maturity. And sprouting risk must always be considered in this country.
One observation to consider on individual varieties is relative robustness across sites and years.
Growers themselves may be the best arbiters of this and it explains why some varieties are still grown years after they leave the list, as they fulfil a requirement for individual growers.
Thankfully, there were no major issues with seed assembly this year, so we can expect both variety and crop assembly to go as planned. The breakdown of winter wheat certified seed availability is shown in Figure 1.
This includes a number of varieties that are not recommended – they were up for recommendation, but did not make it.
Winter oat seed availability is confined to the three recommended varieties. Husky and Isobel account for 98% of seed availability, roughly 50% each.
There are seven varieties recommended this year; six were recommended last year and Spearhead is added. The top three yielders are Spearhead, Graham and SY Insitor. Graham and Torp are best on septoria, while Costello and Conros are best against yellow rust. Details of the individual varieties are shown in Table 1.
The wheat varieties
Costello: Yield is back two points on last year. It has short strong straw with good resistance to straw breakdown. Average for maturity date. It has very good resistance to mildew and yellow rust, good resistance to ear blight, but it is susceptible to septoria (down one point). It has very good sprouting resistance and hectolitre weight.
Graham: A very high-yielding early maturing variety with good resistance to lodging, but has moderate susceptibility to straw breakdown. It has very good resistance to mildew, good resistance to yellow rust, moderate resistance to septoria and it is moderately susceptible to ear blight. It is only moderately resistant to sprouting. Hectolitre weight is good.
JB Diego: Long serving but still a good variety. Moderately early maturing with moderate resistance to lodging and good resistance to straw breakdown. It is moderately resistant to mildew and ear blight, but susceptible to septoria and yellow rust. It has good resistance to sprouting and good grain quality.
KWS Conros: This later-maturing variety is back two points on yield on last year. Its straw is very resistant to lodging and straw breakdown. It has very good resistance to mildew and yellow rust, but it is susceptible to septoria (down a point) and ear blight. It has good resistance to sprouting. It has small seed size but very good hectolitre weight.
SY Insitor: Fully recommended this year. Very high yielding and similar to Costello and Diego on maturity. It has moderate resistance to lodging (down a point) and straw breakdown. It shows good resistance to mildew and yellow rust, moderate resistance to ear blight, but is moderately susceptible to septoria. It has good hectolitre weight but is susceptible to sprouting.
Spearhead: New on the list with provisional recommendation. It is very high-yielding, with moderately early maturity. It is only moderately resistant to lodging and straw breakdown. It has very good resistance to mildew, good resistance to yellow rust, but is moderately susceptible to septoria. Grain quality is only moderate and it is susceptible to sprouting.
Torp: Relative yield is up a point on last year. This is a moderately late-maturing variety with good resistance to lodging and moderate resistance to straw breakdown. Its septoria resistance rating is down a point to moderate, it is moderately susceptible to mildew and susceptible to yellow rust and ear blight. It is moderately resistant to sprouting and its hectolitre weight is on the low side.
The list of winter oat options has been trimmed back considerably this year from six to three varieties. This means that Delfin, Keely and RGT Southwark are no longer recommended. The remaining three varieties have been recommended for some time.
Details of the recommended varieties are shown in Table 2.
All recommended varieties are spring types to be sown in autumn/winter.
The oat varieties
Barra: Now in its 36th year on the recommended list, its relative yield is up a point to 96. As in previous years, straw is susceptible to lodging and straw breakdown. It is moderately late-maturing. It is very susceptible to mildew and susceptible to crown rust. Grain quality is very good.
Husky: Early maturing with high yield potential, which is down a point on last year. It has short straw with good resistance to lodging, but is moderately susceptible to straw breakdown. It is also moderately susceptible to mildew and susceptible to crown rust. Grain quality is very good.
WPB Isabel: High yield potential but down a point on last year. Straw has good resistance to lodging and straw breakdown. It is moderately late-maturing. Moderately susceptible to mildew and crown rust (down a point). It has very good grain quality.
Speaking at the Teagasc Crops Forum last week, John Joe Byrne from the Department of Agriculture explained that of the six wheat varieties up for recommendation, only two had yielded above 100 in 2021 due to the high septoria pressure.
These were Spearhead, which was recommended, and KWS Dawsum, which might have been but was not recommended because there was no seed available. The other four candidates were LG Astronomer, LG Illuminate, Rembrandt and RGT Saki. These had yielded well in previous years but they succumbed badly to septoria in 2021. This was due to the rapid spread of the isolate that could overcome the resistance gene present in Cougar, a parent that was common to all four varieties.
John Joe also commented that the three oat varieties removed from the list were at the request of the relevant variety agents.