Recommended varieties, trial work and more at ISTA open day

The 2017 Irish Seed Trade Association’s (ISTA) annual open day took place last Wednesday, June 21, at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s (DAFM’s) crop evaluation centre in Backweston, Co. Kildare.

According to the association, in 2017 there are 382 crop varieties completing their evaluation period. The main attractions on the day were the individual cereal varieties supplied from breeders around Europe.

There was a very good attendance at the event this year, with representatives from every aspect of cereal production present, the ISTA added.

Attendees included cereal growers, crop consultants, Teagasc tillage specialists, department personnel, seed suppliers, animal feed and agro chemical suppliers and the malting industry.

All ISTA members were welcomed to Backweston by the Head of the DAFM’s Crops Evaluation and Certification Division, Donal Coleman, as the event began.

He underlined the important role the cereal variety evaluation system plays in bringing new improved varieties to the Irish market for a range of end uses.

John Metcalfe, Agri Consultant, Tullow; Diarmuid Murphy, Germinal; and Deirdre Webb, DAFM. Image source: O’Gorman Photography

Meanwhile, Clodagh Whelan – who is an AAI (Assistant Agricultural Inspector) with the DAFM – noted the importance of the extensive trial work that is carried out at various sites around Ireland.

“The trial work that is carried out on our various sites gives growers independent assurance that the varieties selected for the annual Recommended List are the most suitable for growing in Ireland under Irish growing conditions,” she said.

New varieties are submitted on an annual basis to the DAFM for agronomic evaluation, known as VCU (Value for Cultivation and Use) testing.

Key variables measured include grain quality, crop yield and disease resistance.

Having completed this VCU process successfully over a three-year period, the best new varieties are then added to the Recommended List. Seeds of these varieties are then propagated and brought to market for commercial use by Irish growers.

Additionally, quality tests are undertaken to help identify the most suitable varieties for use as malting barley, milling wheat or food-grade oats for example – all of which are crucial to Ireland’s valuable food and drinks sector.

Clodagh Whelan, DAFM, alongside Tim O’Donovan and Marianne Jordan, Seedtech. Image source: O’Gorman Photography

Incoming ISTA Vice President, Phil Meaney, ended proceedings by thanking the DAFM for a great day at Backweston.

He also reiterated the importance of the trial work being undertaken on various other sites around the country by the DAFM – such as Moorepark, Kildalton, Raphoe, Athenry and on a number of commercial farms as well.

Visitors to the open day also got the chance to view the latest grass, forage maize, oilseed rape and bean varieties under evaluation.