Newcomers fight disease

With only 11 additions, and no new oats or spring wheat varieties, there are no dramatic steps forward in terms of yield among the latest lists, according to Bryan Collen, chairman of the wheat variety Recommended List committee.

“But we’ve made steady progress again, particularly on disease resistance which is something we’ve been calling for.

“It’s not just about new varieties.

It’s about making sure that the varieties which are already on the list are standing up to the test.”

Provided farmers are prepared to interrogate the information available, they are bound to find the new lists helpful in getting value for the coming season and their HGCA levy, Suffolk wheat grower Mr Collen believes.

Mascot makes milling status

There are four newly recommended winter wheat varieties – one nabim hard-milling Group 2 type, the rest soft-milling Group 4s.

Two match Robigus for top resistance to the key UK disease, Septoria tritici.

The Group 2 category contains a range of qualities, and RAGT Seeds’ Mascot is a high quality potential breadmaker “very much at the top end”, says RL technical manager Bill Handley.

Branded as a ukp bread wheat for export it has very good protein and specific weight, and good Hagberg – albeit not quite up to Malacca for the latter.

Nabim says it has shown good breadmaking performance, is highly rated within the Group 2 category and is especially favoured by Allied Mills.

It performs consistently across a range of protein contents in CCFRA baking tests, Mr Handley stresses.

“Its performance has been as good as Malacca’s in just about every way with the exception of crumb structure in the Chorleywood process which is a fairly minor thing.”

Its yield is 2% less than Solstice’s.

But it offers 4% more than Malacca and its protein is higher.

“At 12.5% it’s very good considering its yield potential.”

Mascot has no real disease weaknesses, and resists mildew better than Group 2 varieties Option and Solstice.

“It stands well, both with and without plant growth regulator, and that’s despite having moderate to long straw.”

Such is the promise of Alchemy from Nickerson UK that it occupied about 5% of last season’s certified seed area.

Already classified as meeting export specifications, it matches top-yielding Glasgow when treated and beats it by 7% untreated.

“Yield is what this variety is all about,” says Mr Handley.

Indeed when sown before 6 October it outperforms Glasgow which would appear to make it a good replacement for Consort and Claire for early sowing.

It has medium-long straw but stands well when growth regulator-treated.

It also has very good overall disease resistance, and is one of only three listed varieties, along with Robigus and other newcomer Gatsby, rated seven against Septoria tritici.

“It’s an excellent addition to the portfolio.”

There are also signs that it has potential for distilling, he notes.

Advanta Seeds’ Gatsby gets a special recommendation on the strength of its proven genetic resistance to orange blossom midge.

Agronomically it offers advantages over previous OBM resisters which help offset its lower yield – 3% less than Glasgow’s.

It has performed well over a range of sowing dates and soil types.

“Its foliar disease resistance is excellent,” says Mr Handley.

It completes the trio with a seven rating for Septoria tritici resistance.

The brown rust resistance ratings of several other varieties slipped after last summer’s infections, but Gatsby has retained its eight rating, he notes.

After Alchemy it offers the highest untreated yield, is stiff-strawed and has good specific weight and Hagberg.

Its export potential is still undergoing evaluation.

For situations where eyespot is a major risk Nickerson UK’s Hyperion is specially recommended.

It carries the Pch1 gene from the old variety Rendezvous giving it a resistance score of seven.

Until now the penalties of inserting that particular eyespot defence gene have been poor yields, weak straw and low specific weight. But the breeder has overcome that, says Mr Handley.

“It has good yield, stiff straw and good specific weight.”

At 77.9kg/hl its specific weight is nearly as good as Istabraq’s.

“It has broken the mould.”

As a soft-milling Group 4 its treated yield at 105 is 3% below Glasgow’s.

But it has done well as a second wheat in trials with a robust protocol designed to control eyespot, he points out.

“If anything that figure of 105 probably understates its potential as a second wheat.”

Dropped from the list are Dickson, Smuggler and Tanker.

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