A string of new cereal and oilseed rape varieties with high yields and good disease resistance were given the rubber stamp of approval, offering growers the potential to cut production costs.
Some 28 newcomers made it on to the HGCA Recommended Lists 2015-16 for cereals and oilseeds, with plant breeders succeeding in edged-up yields and bolstering disease rating scores.
The highlights were an oilseed rape variety with excellent yield and food-grade oil quality, and new grain varieties used for bread, biscuits, beer, whisky or grain alcohol.
Simon Oxley, who manages the HGCA Recommended Lists, says there is a step forward in varieties to produce quality products and superior agronomic package for growers.
“New quality cereal varieties will now undergo more commercial testing, but along with these potentially marketable qualities they promise to provide the grower with an excellent package of high yields and agronomic features,” he says,
The new 2015-16 lists saw 28 cereals and oilseed varieties added, while 27 were removed. The additions include six new winter wheats, two winter barleys, seven spring barleys, 11 oilseed rapes and two spring oats.
Trinity and Reflection were the highlights of six additions to the wheat list, with the first being a breadmaker with a yield matching the most popular feed wheat and the second taking feed wheat yields to a new level.
Trinity shows the potential to be a leading breadmaking variety alongside Skyfall and Crusoe, with millers saying it shows good gluten quality and baking performance.
Its yield of 102% matches the most popular overall wheat variety, Diego, and fellow breadmaker Skyfall, and has the highest Hagberg on the Recommended List at 337 and a good specific weight of 77.1kg/hl.
Bred by KWS, the variety has attracted interest from the millers and commercial bakers for its breadmaking qualities.
Mark Dodds, winter wheat breeder at KWS, says the variety has a good disease-resistance package with a top 9 rating for mildew and yellow rust, 8 for brown rust, an average 5 for Septoria tritici and a good 7 for fusarium.
“We see Trinity slotting in alongside last year’s newcomer Skyfall, with both becoming the two mainstays for the miller over the next few years,” says Mr Dodds.
On the feed wheat side, Reflection from Swiss-based breeder Syngenta, with a yield of 107%, tops previous highest yielders Evolution and Kielder at 106%.
The hard-milling variety has a stiff straw, early maturity, good all-round diseases resistance, and also resistance to orange wheat blossom midge.
Another variety from KWS, Lili, is classified as a group 2 milling wheat with a yield of 105% and on a par with one of the highest-yielding feed wheat, Santiago.
KWS commercial director Andrew Newby believes the variety with high yields and good grain quality will give it access to a number of markets.
“Growers will find it opens doors to a wider range of market options than most other wheats,” he says.
In the biscuit-making group 3 varieties, two French-based breeders, Limagrain and RAGT, saw Britannia and Conversion added to the new wheat list.
Britannia (104%) from Limagrain comes out as the top yielder of the soft-milling biscuit types and competes with leading feed wheats for yield.
Ron Granger, technical arable manager at Limagrain UK, says the variety has performed well across different seasons due to its good resistance to key wheat diseases, yellow rust and Septoria tritici.
RAGT says its variety Conversion, with a yield of 101%, ticks a lot of boxes for growers being a high-yielding biscuit-making wheat but with potential for use by distillers in Scotland.
“It is a good biscuit maker and will appeal further north in Scotland as it is excellent for distilling, is early maturing and has a short, stiff straw,” says RAGT’s UK managing director, Simon Howell.
Hard-milling feed wheat variety Costello from breeders Senova is also added to the list with a yield of 104% and has a good all-round disease-resistance package.
The variety has a high specific weight of 80.5kg/hl, and good disease score of 9 for yellow rust, 8 for mildew, 7 for brown rust and 6s for both Septoria tritici and fusarium.
“We have a winter wheat variety with some of the best grain quality you can find. As well as very high yields and strong agronomic characteristics,” says Senova commercial director Jeremy Taylor.
The two new feed varieties additions to the list both came from breeder KWS, with two-row Infinity pushing yield levels ahead while Daxor is a six-row variety.
Infinity comes out as the top-yielding two-row winter barley on the list at 105% and has also performed well in Germany, France and Ireland, and comes from a long line of KWS varieties such as Cassia, Glacier and Tower.
David Harrap, UK barley breeder at the German group KWS, says Infinity shows good resistance to wet weather diseases rhynchosporium and net blotch and has strong standing power, similar to Tower.
Daxor is the highest-yielding six-row conventional winter barley at 105% and only beaten by the hybrid variety Volume at 107%.
The variety has performed well in the North as it is early maturing with medium-length and stiffer straw than KWS fellow variety Meridian.
“It is stiffer than Meridian, stands 7cm shorter than Volume in the field; characteristics that will help it find favour in traditional six-row regions such as Scotland,” says John Miles, the group’s product development manager.
Seven new varieties were added this year, with three of them – Sienna, Octavia and Vault – having the potential for dual-purpose use for both brewing and distilling.
Sienna and Octavia both come from Limagrain, which has two dual-use varieties already on the list – Concerto and Odyssey – which contain a gene that mean they don’t produce glycosidic nitrile (non-GN), making them suitable for distilling as well as brewing.
Sienna, which yields 104%, has stiff straw with a high specific weight, while Octavia, also at 104%, is early maturing and with a higher rating than other dual-purpose varieties for the wet weather disease rhynchosporium.
Vault from Syngenta yields 104% as well, while all three yield above the other dual-purpose varieties – Odyssey at 102% and Concerto at 97%.
Mark Glew, senior barley breeder at Limagrain UK, believes the market will decide which of its varieties will survive and looks forward to feedback from the end-users.
Some key maltsters believe these varieties, which can be used by brewers and distillers, are the way forward for growers in the future.
“Dual-purposed varieties are the obvious way forward for supplying both the brewing and the distilling market,” says Bob King, commercial director at Crisp Malting.
Two other Limagrain varieties, Olympus (105%) and Deveron (105%), are being tested for malt and grain distilling and for malt distilling, respectively.
Of the specialist brewing varieties, RAGT’s Planet comes in as the top yielder on the list at 109%, just topping Irina at 108%
The French breeder has succeeded with its first barley on the list for many years and Mr Howell says it has been the top variety across most of Europe.
Of the feed varieties, Scholar from Syngenta, with a yield of 108%, matches current top yield, Shada, and has a stiff straw, good specific weight and good resistance to brackling.
“A high-yielding feed spring barley may catch the eye of a grower looking to move to spring barley as part of the three-crop rule or to manage blackgrass by moving to spring sowing,” says HGCA’s Dr Oxley.
The star of the new 11 entrants was the first high-quality food-grade oil variety to make the list and also came out top of the East/West region with the higher gross output.
The variety V316OL from breeder Monsanto produces a quality food oil that is high in oleic and low in linolenic acid (Holl) to give growers the potential to attract a price premium.
Dr Oxley say the variety represents a step forward in quality, yield and performance throughout the UK.
The variety has a gross output of 109% for the East/West region, above Incentive and Charger, both at 106%, and a clear 2% ahead of the nearest challenger.
The East/West lists sees eight new additions, with the seven others being Harnas (107%), Campus (106%), Mentor (103%), Popular (107%), Picto (107%), Arazzo (106%) and Fencer (105%).
The North list has the first three along with V316OL, with three additions – Explicit (111%), Exentiel (109%) and PT234 (109%)
Picto is the highest gross output conventional variety on the new list for the East/West region and comes from breeder KWS.
“We have already seen significant uptake and these growers say that its ‘hybrid-like’ vigour has stood out this season,” says Peter James, seed manager at distributors Frontier.
Harnas from Syngenta came in as the top yielder with a gross output of 114% in the North, with a robust disease-resistance score of 7 for the crop’s most yield-sapping disease, light leaf spot.
Gary Jobling, group oilseed rape manager, says the variety can deliver higher yield, worth an extra £80/ha compared with the average candidate control varieties.
Two new spring oat varieties, Aspen and Montrose, from breeders Senova, are added to the list become the two highest yielders.
Aspen, with a yield of 108%, has a 5% yield advantage over existing choices with good grain quality, while Montrose yields 104%.
“Aspen is a breakthrough variety that takes yields on to the next level,” says Senova’s Mr Taylor, while adding that Montrose will be an excellent companion variety.