Our winter wheat on-farm variety evaluation trials are showing some interesting results so far this season. I have been visiting all the farms, working through a simplified farmer assessment protocol to harness farmer knowledge and experience in generating data on variety performance, in the hope that these variety trial networks can become self sustaining in the long term.
The value of such work has already been shown by ORC's research on wheat, and the trials this year are already showing some interesting results.
The crops are currently at late stem extension/early flag leaf emergence so it is still early and there is a lot left to be determined but in terms of early canopy traits, Mayflower looks to be a winner. Its prostrate growth habit in late winter, prodigious tillering, its less acute leaf angle in spring and its spring growth rate have all provided it with excellent weed suppressive ability. On one farm, in Lincolnshire, it had really suppressed charlock, especially in comparison to a less weed suppressive variety, Aldaniti. At another farm, in Herefordshire, Mayflower has again proved weed suppressive against other varieties, including Typhoon. There was also a suggestion at a farm in Warwickshire that it had offered competition against wild oats. This is exactly the sort of insight we are looking to gain from this work, helping guide seed merchants on the right varieties to make available and improving variety selection for our members. Mayflower possesses exactly the sort of traits that are really important for Organic farming, with weed suppression, one of, if not the, most important attribute.