Cassius and Panorama lead Nickerson’s new wheat varieties

The most promising two of Nickerson‘s six candidate winter wheat varieties in this year’s HGCA Recommended List trials will have some limited seed available for drilling this autumn, according to Lee Robinson, the firm’s cereals product manager.

There will be enough seed for Cassius, a potential Group 3 variety, and Panorama, a Group 2 candidate, to each take a 1% market share this autumn, he says.

“We’ve seen a huge shift into high yielding hard feed wheats,” notes Mr Robinson. “Some 40% of this year’s potential 16million tonne wheat crop is in these types, which is a concern given the decline in the amount used for animal feed and the requirement of the biofuels sector for soft types.”

The UK has been very successful at producing Group 3 soft wheats in the past, he notes. “And there’s still an export requirement for these soft types. So it’s pleasing to see some good candidate varieties in this group.”

Bill Angus, Nickerson’s senior wheat breeder, believes Cassius could take a big market share in the next few years. “With 105 for yield, stiff straw and good all-round disease resistance, it also has potential for early drilling and seems suitable as a second wheat.”

The arrival of Viscount, the KWS Group 3 candidate variety (FW Arable, 23 May), at the same time, isn’t a concern, he says.


High yields from Cassius and Panorama in trials last year have encouraged Nickerson’s Bill Angus

“They’re different, but complementary, and will partner each other well, as Claire and Consort did at one time,” he explains. “Growers will be able to choose the right variety for their agronomic situation.”

He stresses Cassius is not a Robigus derivative, so it offers growers some all-important genetic diversity in this sector.

Panorama, a potential Group 2 wheat, is very similar to Solstice in agronomic type, Mr Angus says.

“But it’s a step forwards as it gives a yield of 105, has stiff straw and good disease resistance. Like Solstice, it won’t be an early driller and is unlikely to be a good second wheat.”

As with all milling types, the results of further bread making tests are awaited, he acknowledges.

Other candidate varieties from Nickerson include QPlus, the first milling wheat with resistance to wheat orange blossom midge and Lear, a high yielding soft Group 4 with the best resistance to Septoria tritici at a 7.

“Plus is exciting because blossom midge can be a huge problem in milling wheats,” remarks Mr Angus. “If it gets Group 1 classification, it will be a good partner for Solstice in the market.”

Lear is one of the few varieties to improve its performance from 2006 to 2007, he adds. “It’s a soft milling type, which gives a range of end market uses, and it combines resistance to wheat blossom midge with a very high Septoria tritici rating.”

Straw strength is its one possible weakness, he admits. “But this can be managed with the right agronomy.”

Nickerson’s final two candidates are Walpole, another Group 2 candidate and Bantam, a hard milling Group 4. “Walpole is a solid Group 2 which looks like being a good second wheat, while Bantam offers the potential for early sowing with its late primordial development and prostrate winter growth habit.”

Nickerson varieties

  • Six RL candidates

  • Limited seed available for Cassius (Group 3) and Panorama (Group 2) this autumn

  • Potential milling wheat QPlus has OWBM resistance

  • Good septoria resistance for feed wheat Lear

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