Newmarket: Cambridge Arable Technologies’ open day reveals topsy-turvy crops results

CAT Open Day: members view crops

CAT Open Day: members view crops - Credit: Archant

Some unusual crop results were on display at Newmarket Cambridge Arable Technologies’ (CAT) open day this month

CAT Open Day: Richard Fenwick, CAT technical director

CAT Open Day: Richard Fenwick, CAT technical director - Credit: Archant

Wheat varieties decimated by disease last season look spotlessly clean.

John Poulton of CROPCO, UK distributor of Hybrid Wheat

John Poulton of CROPCO, UK distributor of Hybrid Wheat - Credit: Archant

Oilseed rape towering above visitor’s heads last year is barely waist high.

Richard Jennaway (UK director of breeders Saaten Union) with a group at the CAT Open Day event

Richard Jennaway (UK director of breeders Saaten Union) with a group at the CAT Open Day event - Credit: Archant

Such was the topsy-turvy world of crop production on display to members of Cambridge Arable Technologies (CAT) at their annual open day.

Based at the Rosalie Field Station near Newmarket, CAT trials include 34 varieties of winter wheat and 38 varieties of oilseed rape.

There is also an ongoing trial on sulphur nutrition of wheat, micronutrient trials in association with Yara UK and an evaluation of a novel product claimed to reduce the amount of nitrogen required.

Prolonged cold weather and late crop development have resulted in very low levels of disease in most wheat varieties.

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At the open day, untreated wheat plots therefore looked little different from their treated counterparts. Notably Torch, a variety that succumbed to a virulent attack of yellow rust last year and was removed from the HGCA Recommended List, was this year virtually unblemished in the untreated trial plots.

Varieties may be differentiated at harvest but at this stage CAT technical director and variety specialist Richard Fenwick could only pass comment on the basis of past results. Of the new candidate varieties, Skyfall appears promising, he said.

“At the moment Skyfall has an excellent combination of yield, disease resistance and bread making quality,” he said.

“It is also resistant to orange wheat blossom midge. Of the new additions to the Recommended List KWS Kielder is worth keeping an eye on this year as it failed to reach full potential last harvest.

“Also in the CAT trials and worth looking out for is the soft endosperm variety Leeds,” he told CAT members at the event.

Last year the Hybrid Wheat Hystar outperformed all varieties and this year CAT members were able to see three other Hybrid Wheats including Hybery and Hyteck, once again showing early promise.

Hybery - a medium maturing prospective bread making wheat with excellent disease resistance - is in National List trials.

CAT oilseed rape trials include semi-dwarf, conventional and hybrid types, all drilled using a direct drill on wide rows to mirror common farm practice.

The oilseed rape variety trials are included in the National List series.

As on most farms the trial plots show late development with conventional varieties much shorter than usual and flowering has been three weeks late and of shorter than normal duration.

Richard Jennaway, UK technical director of plant breeders and Rosalie Field Station operators Saaten Union concurred with farmers at the open day that there is no decent oilseed rape anywhere and pointed out that it would not be until harvest that differences between the varieties would be exposed.

“Another year like this and farmers will be scratching their heads as to whether it makes sense to grow oilseed rape at all,” said Mr Jennaway.

“If they continue I agree it is a good policy to grow more than one variety to spread the risk and hopefully this trial series will help them decide what to grow on different parts of their farm.”

For further information or for details on how to join Cambridge Arable Technologies, visit www.cambridgearable technologies.co.uk