Despite the challenging season, around 90-95 per cent of AHDB Recommended List (RL) cereals trials are on track to reach harvest this summer.
Dr Paul Gosling, head of the RL, says: “Operators’ kit is smaller and lighter, and they can go on in conditions where a grower could not drill.
“In terms of cereals, only 5-10 per cent of trials either have not been drilled or written off. That is a bit higher than we would expect, but we always have some losses.”
Many trials were drilled later than normal, with a winter cereals cut-off date of January 31.
Although late drilling could have implications for disease pressure and yield, with a three-year cycle of trials for each variety, variability in disease pressure is expected throughout the years, says Dr Gosling.
“There is a certain amount of redundancy built in, and because we’re dealing with multiple years’ worth of data, we can deal with one bad year,” he says.
However, for oilseed rape the situation is more concerning. Dr Gosling says: “The last three years have been difficult, not only for the RL but the National List trials.
“Their data also feeds into our recommendation process and last year there were a lot of NL trials lost.”
This year, around a third of RL and NL trials have either been lost to the late summer drought in the East, cabbage stem flea beetle or are of concern going forward.
“We are not sure they will make it or not,” says Dr Gosling. “Once we have got all the data
from those trials, we will take it to our statistics consultant to determine if there is enough data to make recommendations.
“In the past, trials have been extended for another year, but this is not ideal, because oilseed rape varieties turn over so quickly.”