© Tim Scrivener

Newly approved varieties of cereals and oilseed rape with improved disease resistance could be cheaper to grow and help growers offset the tumble in grain prices.

Winter wheat and oilseed rape varieties with better resistance to the crop’s biggest yield-robbing diseases septoria and light leaf spot were given the rubber stamp of approval in the new AHDB recommended lists 2016-2017 for cereals and oilseed rapes.

Simon Oxley, who manages the AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds Recommended Lists, said these two diseases are challenging to control with fungicides and their management is only likely to get harder.

“Yield and quality acceptable to end-users remain the main drivers for selecting a variety, but this year sees good disease resistance without the associated yield penalty,” he said.

Dr Oxley added that wheat varieties are no longer recommended just on yield, but more weight is now given to other factors such as disease resistance and lodging.

Highlights from the new lists include a high-quality breadmaking wheat, new high-yielding hybrid winter barleys and oilseed rapes with good disease resistance.

The lists show two new varieties of winter wheat with a 7 for septoria resistance, while oilseed rape varieties show better resistance to light leaf spot and phoma, and a specialist variety has resistance to turnip yellows virus.

The 2016-17 lists saw the addition of 32 varieties: nine new winter wheats, five winter barleys, five spring barleys, 11 oilseed rapes to both AHDB lists and two winter oats; 47 varieties were removed.

Winter wheat


A new high-quality breadmaking variety Illustrious and a new top-yielding feed wheat Silverstone were the highlights of the nine new winter wheat varieties.

Illustrious, from breeder RAGT, is the only new quality Group 1 wheat added to the list with good breadmaking quality seen over three different seasons.

“Illustrious will have a pull from the millers, who rate it highly. It does have a late ripening characteristic, but this is unlikely to put anyone off that wants to grow a Group 1 wheat,” said Bill Handley of the AHDB.

The new variety comes from the same stable as Skyfall with good resistance to rusts, mildew, eyespot and fusarium. It yields 100% compared with Skyfall on 101%.

“For us, it is the best quality wheat since Hereward and we are seeing a slightly better take up of the variety than Skyfall,” said Simon Howell, managing director of RAGT UK.

Silverstone is the new highest yielding overall wheat at 106%, with this feed wheat from breeder KWS topping previous top yielders Reflection and Evolution at 105%.

Silverstone is one of five feed wheat, all hard milling, making the list and has good resistance to mildew and rusts, but has weaker straw than other top yielding wheats.

Among other Group 4 feed wheats recommended are Graham from Syngenta with the highest yield in the west, which may reflecting its high 7 score against wet weather disease septoria.

From breeder KWS comes Siskin and Crispin. The first has the highest untreated yield on the list with a 7 for septoria, while Crispin has a bonus of orange wheat blossom midge resistance. Belgrade from Saaten Union has a similar yield to Reflection.

Three biscuit-making Group 3 varieties Barrel and Basset from KWS, and Spyder from Senova also make the list.

New winter wheats compared with nearest rivals

Variety Fungicide-treated yield
Group 1  
Illustrious (New) 100%
Skyfall 101%
Group 3  
Barrel (New) 105%
Basset (New) 103%
Spyder (New) 101%
Britannia 104%
Group 4  
Silverstone (New) 106%
Siskin (New) 105%
Belgrade (New) 105%
Graham (New) 104%
Crispin (New) 104%
Reflection 105%

Winter barley


© Tim Scrivener

Two new high-yielding six-row hybrids from Syngenta and a high yielding two-rower from KWS were the highlights of newcoming winter barley varieties.

Hybrids Bazooka (107%) and Belfry (106%) show improvements over Volume (104%) and have the highest yields on the list, with Bazooka showing consistently high yields across the UK whereas Belfry has done well in the north.

“Bazooka is a safe bet for all UK growers whereas we see Belfry as aimed at niche markets in the north and Scotland,” said Samantha Brooke, Syngenta’s seed manager for UK and Ireland.

Orwell comes from KWS, the breeders of Glacier, Tower and Infinity, and with a yield of 102% comes joint top of the new two-row list.

Also yielding at 102% is Surge from Syngenta, while Craft is a new malting variety also from Syngenta has a 2% higher yield than old malting favourite Venture.

New winter barleys compared with nearest rivals 
Two-row varieties Fungicide-treated yield
Orwell (New) 102%
Surge  (New) 102%
Infinity  102%
Glacier  101%
Malting varieties  
Craft (New) 97%
Venture 95%
Six-row varieties (hybrids)  
Bazooka (New) 107%
Belfry (New) 106%
Volume 104%

Spring barley

Four new malting spring barleys join the new list with Laureate the top yielder for use in brewing and distilling, while a new high-yielding feed variety is added.

Laureate from Syngenta is just 1% behind the brewing-only variety Planet, and the breeder says there will be 6,000t available for malting, brewing and distilling at 2016 harvest.

Other malting varieties include Sassy from KWS, Origin from Limagrain, Fairing for distilling use from Syngenta and the feed variety Ovation from Limagrain.

New spring barleys compared with nearest rivals

Malting varieties Fungicide-treated yield
Laureate (New) 107%
Sassy (New) 105%
Origin  (New) 104%
Fairing (New) 98%
Planet 108%
Feed varieties  
Ovation (New) 107%
Scholar 106%

Oilseed rape

oilseed rape

© Tim Scrivener

A conventional variety Elgar came top in terms of gross output on the East/West regional list while hybrid Alizze came top in the northern region.

Elgar from Elsoms yields 3% ahead of last year’s top yielder V316OL at 111% with a stiff stem and good resistance to light leaf spot (7) and phoma (6).

RAGT has two new hybrid varieties Alizze and Windozz following its first variety Arazzo making the list last year.

Alizze makes it on to both East/West and North lists, with the highest output in the north along with good disease resistance such as a 7 for light leaf spot and a good oil content.

Windozz makes it onto the East/West list with a output of 109% alongside Wembley from LS Plant Breeding.

Another variety from LS Plant Breeding Angus, shows an output of 105% while it has high resistance to phoma (8) and good stiff straw.

On the North list, Barbados from KWS has high resistance to phoma (7), while Nikita has a 7 for light leaf spot and is early maturing.

The high oleic, low linoleic acid (HOLL) variety V324OL from Monsanto gives growers north of the border two varieties to meet the high-quality food oil demand for which VS316OL provides.

Amalie, from Limagrain, offers the novel trait of resistance to aphid-spread turnip yellows virus.


New oilseed rapes for east/west region compared with nearest rivals
Variety Fungicide-treated gross output
Elgar (New) 111%
Windozz (New) 109%
Wembley (New) 109%
Alizze (New) 108%
Angus (New) 105%
Amalie  (New) 99%
V316 OL 108%
Incentive 107%
Picto 105%

New oilseed rapes for north region compared with nearest rivals

Variety Fungicide-treated gross output
Alizze (New) 111%
Barbabos (New) 110%
Nikita (New) 110%
Amalie (New) 97%
V324OL (New) 109%
Harnas 111%

Winter oats

Two new winter oats were added to the list – Maestro and Lineout. The first from Senova has a fungicide-treated yield of 105% and Lineout is at 102%, both well ahead of old favourite Mascani 97%.