New Group 4 wheat stands out for grain quality

With grain quality to rival some of the milling types, including the highest specific weight on the Recommended List at 80.5kg/hl, a Group 4 newcomer could earn growers a premium.

“Even in the feed wheat sector, growers are looking for high-performing varieties that have marketing flexibility,” says Senova’s sales manager Tom Yewbrey. He says growers also want minimal growing and management challenges.

Costello fits this description very well, he suggests. “It has a yield of 104%, a very high untreated yield and some of the best grain characteristics on the Recommended List. Together with good disease resistance, short, stiff straw and early maturity, it brings the important factors together.”

“The lower-risk varieties are in favour. An untreated yield of 95% tells you much of what you need to know about Costello – it won’t need a huge fungicide spend to achieve its potential.”
Tom Yewbrey, Senova

Referred to as the “dark horse” in the last round of wheat recommendations, Costello received National Listing later than the others, explains Mr Yewbrey.

“As a result, there is some seed available for this autumn, so farmers can compare it to their current choices. But autumn 2016 will be the main seed sales.”

Many of the characteristics displayed by Costello have been offered by JB Diego for the past six years, he acknowledges. “And there are similarities between the two, especially when it comes to getting a premium. JB Diego’s success has paved the way for others – with Costello being the first to come along.”

Its inclusion on the HGCA Recommended List 2015-16 comes as growers are switching from the highest-yielding varieties to those that have other attributes, he adds.

“The lower-risk varieties are in favour. An untreated yield of 95% tells you much of what you need to know about Costello – it won’t need a huge fungicide spend to achieve its potential.”

That’s partly due to having the Danish variety Timaru in its parentage, he says.

In terms of yield, it is 2% above JB Diego and 1% behind KWS Santiago. A ripening score of +1 puts it just behind JB Diego, but ahead of Evolution, KWS Santiago and KWS Kielder.

“Varieties that offer consistency and marketability, regardless of the season, have come to the fore in the past few years,” says Mr Yewbrey. “Costello brings this security to the feed wheat sector.”

What the experts say

Barry-Barker,-AgriiBarry Barker – Agrii

Costello fits the current mood on farm, says Agrii’s Barry Barker, who predicts it will be around for a long time.

“It is a very good variety – its specific weight will be attractive to growers who like big, bold grain. And it is solid on disease, with a high untreated yield.”

He thinks Costello will be grown in all regions. “Time will tell what yield level it settles at, but it has all the attributes that growers look for. A 5% market share is realistic.”

Colin-Button-H&S2Colin Button – Hutchinsons

Costello is of interest and will have a particular place in the West, due to its spray timing flexibility, believes Colin Button of Hutchinsons.

“It has the disease resistance that is required and it seems to have good sprouting resistance. That takes some of the risk away”

Having another year to learn about it will be useful, he adds. “Costello is already in our trials programme, so we will have some more knowledge later this year.”

Paul TaylorPaul Taylor – Pearce Seeds

Costello is in the same mould as JB Diego, points out Paul Taylor, which means it should suit growers in the South and West.

“We have always sold more of the better-quality feed wheats than the top yielders,” he says. “The grain quality gives some reassurance, especially in a wet year.”

Costello’s septoria rating of 6 held up well last year, he adds. “It is our second year with the variety in trials, so we already have confidence in it.”

Nigel Wally – Agrovista

Costello isn’t immediately obvious on the latest Recommended List, as it is midway down the feed wheat rankings for yield, says Nigel Wally of Agrovista.

“But its grain quality does stand out,” he acknowledges. “And if growers are going to switch to a new variety, they need to have something to move on to.”

Chris BatesChris Bates – Openfield

Costello is a variety that will appeal to growers who are looking to add value, says Chris Bates of Openfield.

“Varieties that have a bit more to offer are in favour,” he says. “Costello should enable farmers to earn a small premium, which will be of interest.”


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