Five new biscuit wheats mean there are eight Group 3 varieties to consider on the 2021/22 Recommended List – marking a resurgence in their popularity.
Sitting in the middle of the group for yield is Merit. Bred by Elsoms, it scores 8 for yellow rust and 6.6 for septoria tritici. With a specific weight of 76.5 kg/hl and a Hagberg Falling Number of 255 seconds, protein is respectable at 11.7%.
With a special recommendation for the east, Merit has a yield of 103% of controls for the region. And a strong untreated yield of 80% of controls marks it out as one of the standout varieties for the area.
Lincolnshire farm manager Brian Hammond grew a seed crop of Merit at Westmoreland Farms, Heckington. Drilled into a good seed bed at 170 kg/ha in mid-September, it received a standard fungicide programme of T1, T2 and T3.
“It has stayed impressively clean, despite the yellow rust pressure of the season,” says Mr Hammond.
The crop had 220kg of nitrogen with the last split at the end of April. Mr Hamond says he was particularly impressed with its stiff straw. After 52mm of rain over a single weekend in June, it was still standing strong.
“It’s been a robust variety and never looked like it needed more fungicide than other wheat crops on the farm. In a season where yellow rust has been the disease to watch for, Merit stayed clean until through to T1 which was reassuring.”
Although promoted as being suited to a late drilling slot, Mr Hammond was reasonably early by modern practices. Despite scoring 3 for mildew, there was no disease to note and it looked sound heading into the winter, he adds.
“Given how well it looks and based on our field history, I’m optimistic it will yield between 10 and 11 t/ha. If it fulfils this expectation and given its broad market appeal, including suitability for export, then I would have to give it serious consideration.”