A new winter soft wheat with strong distilling potential is the standout newcomer for Scotland on the AHDB’s cereals recommended list (RL) for 2021-22.
Swallow, a variety with short stiff straw and early maturity, looks likely to displace some popular varieties such as Skyscraper and Elation because of its higher distilling quality, although AHDB says that like the established varieties, it doesn’t have a “particularly impressive” disease package.
Revealing this year’s RL, Dr Paul Gosling of AHDB said Swallow’s performance to date is creating excitement at the Scotch Whisky Research Institute.
He added: “The limited data reveals it has a relatively early and good yield, which will appeal to northern growers.
“However, its main talking point is that it has been rated good for distilling, with consistent performance over the last three years – comfortably outperforming all other varieties in 2020 distilling tests.”
The variety was bred by Blackman Agriculture and is being marketed by Senova which said it “tillers freely and produces high ear numbers with good quality grain” and is suitable for both early and late sowing.
The company added: “A high starch content, Hagberg of 245 and specific weight of 76.3kg/hl are complemented by a superb lodging resistance (+PGR) score of 9 (-PGR 8), a height of 78cm (compared to more than 90cm for Skyscraper) and 6s for both yellow rust and brown rust resistance.
“Its Septoria tritici score of 5.7 might not be representative given its yield in untreated trials and is better than other popular soft wheats.”
Senova is currently riding high, having produced the new winter barley variety Bordeaux which won the YEN best percentage of yield award for Fife grower David Bell.
However, AHDB adds a caution on Bordeaux: “It has a very good specific weight of 69.9 kg/hl.
“Although it comes with a reasonable disease package, a disease rating of 4 for rhynchosporium and net blotch might deter growers in wetter regions.”
Meanwhile, Agrii’s new spring barley variety, Skyway – the only new barley on test for brewing – has made it on to the RL, with AHDB commenting that it offers “a significant yield improvement over the market leaders”.
The levy body adds: “Specific weight is very good at 68.7 kg/hl. Although data is limited, good disease resistance is suggested by its untreated yield of 96%.”
The new RL also features key changes to wheat rust disease-resistance ratings.