Two newly recommended feed wheats could attract grower interest looking for alternative options with better yellow rust resistance than Oakley or Viscount.
Beluga, from Senova, is a soft feed wheat, which yields 2% more than Viscount. Stiff and short, it has a nine rating for yellow rust resistance compared with Viscount’s four.
That brought its UK-wide recommendation, HGCA’s Jim McVittie said. “Originally it looked like being a specific recommendation for the north because of its distilling potential.
“The distillers are quite excited about it. Its rated as good for distilling, better than Consort or Robigus, and possibly as good or even better than Riband.”
The variety could also attract interest from growers looking to produce wheat for bioethanol plants, Jeremy Taylor of breeder Senova said. “Large scale distilling trials have been initiated to commercially evaluate Beluga and if it holds good to its promise, it could well be the variety of preference for distilling and ethanol sectors.”
But there are a couple of weaknesses to be aware of – brown rust resistance is only rated as a three, while it has a lower Hagberg even than Viscount. “We know Viscount is susceptible to sprouting too, so this suggests Beluga could be as well,” Dr McVittie said.
The second feed wheat to take advantage of last year’s yellow rust outbreaks is Conqueror. It actually failed to get recommended last year as at the time it didn’t “stack up” against Oakley, Dr McVittie said.
“It was a narrow decision to not recommend it, but with the changes to Oakley, particularly its yellow rust rating, it was decided it should now be recommended.”
It yields 1% below Oakley, but 2% ahead of any other hard feed wheat. Yellow rust resistance is a five compared with Oakley’s two. “There is a possibility of cross-infection [to the Oakley yellow rust strain], but it is not as serious as Robigus from Oakley, for example.” It was also susceptible to mildew, he added.
In the east region the two varieties yielded at the same level, its breeder KWS noted. “It out performs Oakley on lighter land and in later sowings, where it is the highest yielding wheat. It is also one of only two hard Group 4 wheats with resistance to orange wheat blossom midge resistance.”
One further change has been made to the feed wheat list – Grafton has been upgraded from having a specific recommendation for early ripening to a full UK recommendation. “Its suitability for early drilling has also been confirmed,” Dr McVittie said.
It was also the highest yielding second wheat on the new Recommended List, partly due to its good eyespot resistance, its breeder KWS noted.
Soft and hard feed wheats have been separated on the Recommended List to make it easier for growers to compare. Two additions have been made to the milling wheat varieties. KWS Sterling is a higher yielding, lower milling quality Group 2, in the style of Panorama.
Nabim’s verdict was that baking performance was acceptable, but it had shown some variability in protein levels, Dr McVittie said. “It also said: ‘Good agronomic management may be required to attract higher premiums.’ In nabim speak that means you must get the protein content.”
Protein content in trials was slightly lower than Panorama at 11.4% compared with the latter’s 11.7%. Specific weights were also lower. It improves on Panorama’s brown rust weakness, but its weaker against Septoria tritici.
The second Group 2 variety, Kingdom, has more quality, but is lower yielding. At 100% of the controls it is 2% above Cordiale, and achieves similar protein levels. “But over three years overall baking performance varied between seasons, which may mean good agronomic management is required to maintain premiums,” was nabim’s verdict.
It would also have its agronomic challenges, Dr McVittie suggested, rating only a four for brown rust and a five for Septoria tritici.