Plant breeder Bill Angus is urging growers to take up the recent invitation by AHDB to contribute to how future Recommended Lists are shaped and to make them fit for purpose going forwards.

“In recent years, many would accept that the Recommended List system has not kept up with newer farming regimes and has lost its way.

“Yet the Recommended List  plays a key role in variety selection for the majority of growers and their agronomists – as well as the seed trade servicing them. 

“All credit to the AHDB for inviting responses – so everyone involved should add their voice to the debate. At the centre of the debate will be the relevance of the datasets and how they are interpreted to meet our future needs.

“I believe we need to see more and better data – and that must mean more field, variety, and agronomy orientated staff.  That would generate better data to work on, and therefore reduce the need for statisticians to try to resolve issues from imperfect or insufficient data.”

Bill Angus sets out some areas growers could consider, examples are:

·    The role of prophylactic (current system) fungicide regimes to targeted approaches. 

·    More regional data, backed up with solid data, 

 ·    Better first and second wheat discriminatory trials 

·    Deeper insights into the quality parameters exhibited by new varieties. 

More general, but equally important points are:

o  Breeders have a ‘treasure trove’ of genetics that need to be harnessed and put to work. However, the historical straight jacket approach by concentrating on yield provides no incentives for breeders to produce anything different.

o  It must also be a priority to look at Increased disease standards to protect growers as we lose chemistry.

o  And a better understanding of how we can optimise the strategic use of genetic diversity, and to look further down the line at what opportunities variety mixtures and hybrids could bring.

“AHDB recognise that they need help to move forward. I would urge growers to take this opportunity to express their opinions – no matter how controversial. If you do not take up the challenge, you will not get the Recommended Lists you want and deserve – ones that will meet the needs of the future,” Bill Angus adds.