Great weather brings crowds for Annual ISTA Open Day

The 2017 Irish Seed Trade Association’s (ISTA) annual open day took place on one of the hottest days of the year so far, at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine crop evaluation centre in Backweston, Co Kildare. In 2017 there are 382 crop varieties completing their evaluation period, and on the day the main attraction were the individual cereal varieties supplied from breeders across Europe.

There was a very large attendance at this years’ event with representatives from every aspect of cereal production including crop consultants, Department personnel, Teagasc tillage specialists, seed suppliers, cereal growers, agro chemical and animal feed suppliers and the malting industry.

Donal Coleman, Head of Division Crops Evaluation and Certification, Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM) opened proceedings by welcoming all Irish Seed Trade members to Backweston and highlighted the importance the cereal variety evaluation system plays in bringing new improved varieties to the Irish market for a range of end uses.

Clodagh Whelan, AAI Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM) commented on the importance of the extensive trial work that is undertaken at various sites around the country. Clodagh stated ‘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’.

New varieties are submitted annually to the Department of Agriculture for agronomic evaluation, known as VCU testing. Key parameters to be measured include crop yield, disease resistance, and grain quality.  Having successfully completed this VCU process over a three-year period, the best new varieties are then added to the Recommended List and seed of same is propagated and brought to market for commercial use by Irish growers. In addition, quality tests are also carried out to help identify the most suitable varieties for use as malting barley, milling wheat or food-grade oats for example, all of which is vitally important to Ireland’s valuable food and drinks sector.

ISTA incoming Vice President, Phil Meaney closed proceedings by thanking the Department of Agriculture for a superb day at Backweston and reiterating the importance of the trial work being undertaken on various other sites around the country by the Department including Moorepark, Kildalton, Athenry, Raphoe and also on a number of commercial farms.

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

The cereal varieties under evaluation in 2017 include: 38 winter wheat, 12 spring wheat, 30 winter barley, 57 spring barley, 10 winter oat and 11 spring oat.