Five wheat varieties to consider drilling next season

Four new winter wheats are included in Clare Leaman’s five varieties to look out for this year, including a milling wheat with feed wheat yields.

But before outlining her top five choices, Mrs Leaman, cereals specialist at Niab Tag, points out there is a very good range of 41 wheat varieties available, as borne out by the number on the HGCA Recommended List.

See also: How to select the right varieties for high crop yields and premiums

“These are just five from that list, in no particular order, which I want to draw attention to ahead of the new cropping year,” she says.

“All have attributes that make them hard to ignore.”

1. Trinity

Now confirmed as a full Group 1 variety by Nabim, Trinity is a breadmaking variety that continues the theme started by Skyfall last year, she says.

“KWS Trinity has a yield of 102%, together with good grain quality and improved disease resistance. It sits alongside Skyfall at the top of the Group 1 category.”

Trinity brings better mildew, yellow rust and fusarium resistance ratings than Skyfall, but a slightly lower septoria score. It also doesn’t have orange wheat blossom midge resistance.

“It’s another variety that takes some of the risk out of growing milling wheat,” says Mrs Leaman. “And now that the millers have given it the thumbs up, it will be of interest to growers.”

But like Skyfall, it has a lower grain protein, she warns. “Growers will have to learn how to deal with that with the right nitrogen management.”

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2. Lili

Wide market appeal and flexibility are the main selling points of the new Group 2 variety KWS Lili, believes Mrs Leaman.

With a yield of 105%, it can rival some of the feed wheats, but has the added bonus of grain quality, she adds. “It also has good disease resistance, so it’s a strong package.”

Lili represents a step up in yield for the Group 2 sector, which should help its cause, she predicts. “It doesn’t have the same grain quality as Cordiale, so it will be a gristing variety and the premium will be lower. However, it also has export potential.”

Growers should plan their marketing strategy with Lili, she advises. “Think about where you are going to sell it. You may need to manage its grain protein for certain markets, or you might just be happy to push for yield.”

3. Reflection

Syngenta’s new hard Group 4 feed variety Reflection has joined the HGCA Recommended List as the highest-yielding wheat at 107%, giving it immediate appeal, says Mrs Leaman.

That yield puts it 1% ahead of Evolution and Kielder, but there are other advantages with Reflection too, she suggests. “It has better grain quality and it isn’t late-maturing. So it brings more to the table.”

Her advice is to keep an eye on yellow rust, due to the aggressive nature of new yellow rust strains. “It’s rating of 6 is OK, but we are still learning about how varieties are affected. So don’t be complacent.”

She suggests trying some Reflection alongside other proven feed varieties. “This year is an opportunity to see if it has more to offer for your farm.”

4. Costello

Excellent grain quality is the main reason Mrs Leaman gives for picking out the other new hard Group 4 variety, Costello, which is from Senova.

“It is the dark horse of this year’s newcomers because it received national listing later than the others, so it hasn’t been marketed early,” she says. “But it is a really interesting variety.”

A yield of 104% puts Costello only just behind the Group 4 leaders, but it also offers good disease resistance and the best grain quality, without being late to mature, she points out.

“It is a good choice if you want to offset some of the risk or grow a partner variety. It has an untreated yield of 95%, so there is a spray management advantage with it too.”

Costello’s Hagberg of 314 and specific weight of 80.5kg/hl could result in the millers paying a premium for it, just as they do for JB Diego, she adds.

5. Evolution

Limagrain’s Evolution is still worthy of attention, says Mrs Leaman, after last year’s good uptake of the Group 4 hard feed variety.

Very high yields and good disease resistance, especially to the rusts, have proved attractive to growers, who perceive it to be one of the lower-risk varieties, she says.

“It lets you spread the risk of growing feed wheat without incurring a yield penalty,” she says.

However, it has a low specific weight and it is later to mature than the top sellers, including JB Diego. “Both of these characteristics can be managed by growing it with other varieties.”

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