Despite the problems with Covid this year, PGRO research work is continuing apace at the Stubton site which is at the heart of the organisation’s field work. Although there are no formal open days, visitors are welcome by prior appointment, and there is a full range of trials under way.
Stubton is one of the trials sites for the PGRO Recommended List and National List, evaluating current and potential combining pea, vining pea and field bean varieties for the UK grower.
Steve Belcher, PGRO Principal Technical Officer, explains that the 2019-20 season will be a challenging one for varietal evaluation: “We can see some very clear differences in varieties in the field, and these will surely give an interesting statistical analysis as we tease out meaningful results from all our UK trials sites.
“You could take the view that varieties which do well in such a season should rightly show a strong Recommended List result due to their robust performance in the face of adverse conditions. Equally, you could argue that it is an atypical season, and the 2019-20 trials results will need to be 'weighted down' in the 5-year yield tables.
“We will work hard to make sure that, in the end, we will have results that will help growers and the seed trade make an informed variety choice.”
In another part of the site, the PGRO field team was hard at work taking samples for leaf nutrient analysis. Steve Belcher continues his comments: “We are looking at three set of trials plots to see if taking sap samples as well as whole plant samples will produce better and more useful results.
“The sampling team take 100gm leaf samples from the top of the plant and 100gm from the base. These are collected and sent to an independent laboratory for analysis. This is the surest method to determine the nutritional requirements of a plant and to see if it is suffering from a deficiency.”
At the far end of the Stubton Site, Jim Scrimshaw, PGRO Principal Technical Officer and Dr Lea Herold, PGRO Plant Pathologist, are evaluating a range of alternative pulse crops. One of the most interesting trials are plots of 22 varieties of lentils taken from north America and Europe.
“Lentils have a number of attractions,” says Jim Scrimshaw. “For a start, interest in the end product is increasing in the UK with currently limited UK production. The varieties are showing clear variations and we plan to concentrate on those that show the better potential for 2021.
“In the past, the low growth habit of the crop has posed harvesting difficulties - particularly on cloddy seedbeds. Varieties here are still low growing, but pods on several appear to be concentrated more toward the top of the plant which will help with harvesting. When they are ready for UK harvest is also key.”
Lea Herold adds: “We are keeping a close eye on the varieties for the presence of pests and diseases and thankfully up to now there have been none - which is helpful as there are limited options currently available to effectively control pests and diseases in lentils.”
Stubton also features the full range of PGRO research work, such as intercropping and the effect of cultivations on bean seed fly — both of which will be the subject of PGRO Crop Updates later in the year.
For further information on all PGRO research and agronomy work, please contact the technical advisory line on 1780 782585, option 2 or email firstname.lastname@example.org