Wheat the focus at Variety Day Wheat demonstration plots were the focus at RAGT’s recent open day.
highlighting that there is 10,000t of seed available for this autumn.
Plant breeder RAGT Seeds hosted its annual Variety Focus Day at its Ickleton HQ, near Duxford, on the Essex/Cambridgeshire border. Dominic Kilburn reports. Why would a grower risk changing to a new variety if it only offered a one per cent advantage in yield on the Recommended List over what was currently being grown on farm? That was the question posed by RAGT Seeds’ managing director Simon Howell (right) at a Variety Focus Day recently. Speaking from the company’s demonstration plots, Mr Howell highlighted the example of a variety like JB Diego which has shown enormous consistency, delivering 102 per cent (treated yields) in RL trials for the past four years. “The farmer knows what a variety like this will deliver and, as breeders, we understand that consistency for a farmer is key. A new variety with a one per cent improvement in yield over one that consistently delivers on farm is not enough of a reason to change – particularly if the new variety has a wider yield ‘swing factor’ over time. “Yes, it could deliver three per cent more but, equally, it could yield three per cent less,” he explained. He said that the ‘104 mark’ for feed wheat yield was starting to get congested on the RL and that growers would need to look at them in more detail in order to pull them apart. “Reflection has succumbed to yellow rust which could potentially take a significant amount of seed out of the market, and so JB Diego remains the best choice in that 8
sector but seed supply will be tight. This will open up opportunities this autumn for the others yielding around 104–105 per cent in that sector.” Mr Howell suggested that a lot of farmers have grown the company’s highly popular Group 1 milling wheat Skyfall, deciding part-way through the season whether to grow as a feed wheat or to push for milling quality. “This whole area of feed wheats is getting exciting – high yielding varieties like Skyfall, Lili and Barrel are being grown out of their normal Group,” he said. He also highlighted three of the company’s Candidate feed wheats that are up for recommendation this autumn. Potential Group 4 soft variety RGT Knightsbridge (107 per cent) had been pre-released, he said, in order to build up seed supply early and 70 per cent had already been sold. Consistently high yielding, the variety comes with distilling potential with good yields across the regions. A 6 for septoria and 8 for yellow rust are the standout scores in its agronomic profile and it has OWBM and eyespot resistance. According to Mr Howell, while headline yield is its strength, its specific weight is on the lower side. RGT Paddington (105) is a hard feed wheat which Mr Howell admitted needs to yield a little higher to be of real interest to growers. “Its yellow rust resistance is better than we expected and we
have some C1 seed available, but we will have to wait and see how it performs,” he stated. Finally, RGT Westminster, another soft feed, is a JB Diego/ Viscount cross and is really standing out under some extreme disease pressure and, like RGT Paddington, it is a watching brief for this harvest, he said.
Quality wheats RAGT’s Cathy Hooper (right) suggested that, with the company’s RGT Illustrious having recently joined nabim Group 1, it will likely dominate the Group along with Skyfall and Crusoe, both of which have eight per cent market share, for the foreseeable future. “Skyfall is extensible, Illustrious gives strength and Crusoe adds the protein to the grist – they all complement each other,” she pointed out. While Skyfall is a good variety on lighter soils, Illustrious is slightly earlier to mature and performs better on heavier soils, she said. “We’ve seen consistent quality coming through in end user tests over several years and, while we know varieties don’t suit every end user, in the case of Illustrious it’s the first variety we know of where they have all come back to say they like it. “Because of its consistent quality, we think it will be out there on farm for some time to come,” she added,
Providing a vision of RAGT Seeds’ pipeline NL 1 varieties was the company’s wheat breeder, Célia Bequain. (right) “The three potential milling varieties presented in our demonstration plots have been baked over three harvest years. The feedback from end users on these lines is unanimous – the performance is consistently similar or better than the internal bread controls.” The first of the three potential bread makers is RW41517, a (Medallist x Battalion) x Sterling cross, with the same yield as Skyfall as well as OWBM resistance. “It has very good disease resistance including an 8 for both rusts, a 6 for septoria, as well as very good Hagberg and a specific weight of 78, commented Célia. “It’s looking like a good all-rounder,” she added. Next up was RW41521, (Medallist x Marksman) x Sterling, yielding two per cent higher than Skyfall, she pointed out. In addition, like Skyfall, RW41521 has both OWBM and Pch1 eyespot resistances. These attributes combined with a good disease resistance package (8 for yellow rust, 6 for brown rust and septoria) and good grain quality are making RW41521 an exciting and very promising variety for the growers, she suggested. Finally, with good untreated yields, RW41525, (Medallist x Kingdom) x Panorama, is three per cent higher yielding than Skyfall. “Its slight downfall is that it does not have midge resistance but it does have the potential to yield even higher,” she said. Of the potential biscuit-makers in the pipeline, RW41581, a Cassius x Ambrosia cross, yields the same as Britannia at 104 per cent, has good yellow rust resistance, a 6 for septoria, and a 5 for brown rust – the latter which can be managed, said Célia. continued over...
www.farmersguide.co.uk July 2016
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Published on Jul 8, 2016