THERE'S a 'magic' newcomer to the Recommended List for oats.

Said to deliver an unrivalled combination of yield, quality, disease resistance, and an early harvest, Merlin spring oat is a new ‘all-rounder’ for both miller and farmer.

It produces high yielding, high quality oats when grown either conventionally or organically and has the lowest screening losses of any spring oat variety, outstanding disease resistance, including an 8 for mildew. Crucially for Scottish farmers, it is early to mature.

According to Gemma Clarke, at Cope Seeds and Grain – the UK agents of the new variety – Merlin is a standout oat for UK farmers and millers.

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“Merlin spring oat is suited to all regions in the UK and because of its early maturity, it will do well in wetter climates and in Scotland, where early maturity is vital. It delivers consistency and quality to millers, due to its high specific weight, high kernel content and it has the lowest screening losses of any oat variety on the Recommended List (RL).

“It is one of the highest yielding oat varieties on the Recommended List and performs exceptionally well when grown organically or conventionally with good standing ability.

“Also, for farmers looking to farm more environmentally with less inputs, Merlin has exceptional disease resistance scores with a mildew score of 8,” she added.

Douglas Gordon, at Alexander Harley Seeds, agreed that Merlin is a strong contender for Scotland. “It's a good variety for Scotland – we always look for earliness and this variety really stands out. I also grow it and the screening trials data translates to the field – screenings are very low."

Richard Monk, a Hampshire arable farmer, has had fantastic results with Merlin spring oats. “In 2020, Merlin established well and had strong disease resistance. It was harvested on August 22 and despite the catchy weather at the time, it was standing well and combined easily.

"The yield was 69 tonnes from 9.3ha and the germination was sound. This was a better yield than the other spring oat variety we were growing.

“For 2021, harvest we were encouraged enough to increase our area of Merlin but like all oat and barley combining for 2021 harvest here in Hampshire, conditions were really difficult, however the Merlin held its own and did better than the other spring oats we grew. I am planning to plant it again this spring for 2022 harvest.”

Millers like its low screenings and Philip Rayner, at Glebe Farm, which has a milling facility, is positive about samples from 2021 harvest. “Kernel content is very good and de-hulling looks suitable. The screenings were low and the bushel weight was very good.

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"We look forward to trialling Merlin through the mill in the next few weeks. We buy a great deal of organic gluten-free oats for export and the UK and are keen to support improved varieties for both growers and millers.”