Wheat yield key to varietys success
YIELD remains the most important factor when choosing cereal varieties, according to Advanta (formerly Zeneca) Seeds.
The companys new feed wheat, Savannah, outyields Brigadier and Equinox by 3% and Reaper and Consort by 4%, making it the highest yielding wheat ever, says the companys Paul Hickman.
Savannahs high Hagberg and specific weight mean it will suit certain export markets. But the variety, the only one to gain promotion to the Recommended List last autumn, is mainly aimed at feed wheat outlets.
"HGCA figures show that about 6m tonnes of home grown wheat is used for animal feed, the highest single use share."
The yield hike has re-established a significant yield difference over Class 2 added value varieties, Mr Hickman points out. High premiums for quality will be needed if the latter are to compete, but UK weather and the increased plantings of Class 2 types this season means that cannot be guaranteed, he adds.
Although Savannah has Brigadier as a parent (the other is Riband), yellow rust is more controllable, says wheat breeding manager John Barrett.
"The YR17 race affects juvenile plants. But Savannah is a slow ruster – the rate of spread is much slower than with Brigadier. The disease wont suddenly explode."
The variety is the first commercial variety to be bred using the doubled haploid breeding process. It producers pure stock with one step, rather than the 8-10 generations needed in conventional breeding. That knocks two years off the usual time taken to bring a new variety to market.
The process allowed Savannah to be introduced just seven years after making the first cross, says Mr Barrett. *
Wheats at the double – new breeding techniques are speeding variety developments, says Advanta Seeds Tony Rhodes.