Cope Seeds and Grain, the UK agents for the Merlin spring oat variety, are reporting that the crop is performing well in the field and becoming increasingly attractive to millers.
This is because it can be grown throughout the UK, even in wetter areas, due to its early ripening.
Brin Hughes, agronomy manager at Bedfordshire-based Richardson Milling, which is said to be the second biggest oat miller in Europe, is encouraged by the trial results from Merlin.
“We’re pleased with Merlin’s performance in trials this year and it seems that Isabel and Merlin are front-runners in terms of spring varieties.
“Trials in Suffolk, Hampshire and Kent showed that the earlier Merlin is drilled, the better the resulting yield and bushel weight. When drilled in February/early March, the yield figures started at 6t/ha in Suffolk, 8t/ha in Hampshire, and 9t/ha on the fertile Kent site, with bushel weight at over 50 kilos for each trial, and screenings at around 3%. It also had very good standing ability consistently.
“If more Merlin is grown and it meets specification, we are more than happy to take it in the mill,” Mr Hughes added.
Stirling-based mixed farmer, Ronald Dick, grows Merlin for seed and says it’s performing well in the field. “We’ve grown Merlin for the last two years; it’s been our highest-yielding oat at well over 7.5t/ha.
It’s early to ripen, and clean, it has good straw strength, and has a very good quality. I’ve got nothing bad to say about it,” he said.
Agrii is backing the variety and David Leaper, seed technical specialist, said that Merlin has performed well in this year’s trials.
“Merlin has held its own this year in treated and untreated trials. Essentially it’s consistent, high yielding, good quality, with early maturity and has strong disease resistance.”
When grown conventionally or organically, the variety has been shown to produce high-yielding, high quality oats, with the lowest screening losses for any spring oat variety, disease resistance including an eight for mildew and is early to mature.
Skye Van Heyzen, product manager at Agrii, said Merlin has always looked great in the field. “It performs as well as the other market-leading varieties and that’s why we back it.
“What sets it apart is the early ripening, and ability to still produce good yields and specification, which makes it suitable for many regions in the UK.
”Farmers are looking for a variety that’s consistent in the field, they want an oat they can easily manage, and this is where Merlin excels,” he said.