It’s been a tough year for tillage farmers, but in recent weeks spring crops have improved and winter crops look a lot better.

Winter barley may look better than it will yield, but spring barley is doing better than expected, so that is a positive.

It’s great to get out and look at crops at this time of the year and over the past few weeks, the seed trade provided opportunities to visit their trial sites and examine new and upcoming varieties alongside well-established varieties for cereals, beans and oilseed rape.

We have compiled as much as possible from these days into a Focus in this week's paper. It will be online on the e-paper on Wednesday night and in shops on Thursday.


The huge amount of work and effort put into these trials is so important.

Ireland does not breed its own varieties, so seed multipliers test varieties under Irish conditions before submitting them to the Department of Agriculture for testing to see if they make it on to the recommended list or not.

This ensures varieties that make it to the farmer are examined thoroughly and are among the best out there to yield, stand and fight disease in an Irish climate. This should also help to cut down on crop inputs like fungicides.

In this Focus, we bring you through the varieties and allow you to examine what’s out there and what to look out for at harvest and when purchasing seed.

Some terms to note reading through the varieties are as follows:

  • Relative yield - this is the yield relative to control varieties which are established in the market. The base is 100. Above this, the variety is doing better than the control and below it, it is poorer than the control. This also applies to protein content.
  • Resistance score - this is scored out of nine. Nine being resistant. So if a variety scores a five for resistance to disease or lodging, it is in the middle of the pack. If it scores an eight, it is at the top end. Usually, four is the lowest score a variety would go to.