NIAB investigates Solstice winter wheat’s yellow rust status

Growers have not had to worry unduly about protecting Solstice from yellow rust, but NIAB is now investigating samples from reportedly heavily infected crops.

NIAB is investigating samples from crops of Solstice reported to be heavily infected with yellow rust.

Two samples sent in from farms earlier in the season have now been added to with plant material from one of NIAB’s own untreated plots.

Tests are ongoing to establish whether Solstice’s yellow rust rating of 9 is at risk.

Rosemary Bayles of NIAB told Farmers Weekly: “We have seen modest infection levels, which are more than have been found in Solstice before, and now need to multiply up enough spores to be able to test it further.”

She added that it was not unusual to see odd, active stripes in Solstice. “But this is much more than the occasional stripe. We won’t know any more until we have completed the next stage of the testing process.”

Breeder Nickerson-Advanta is aware of the situation and has visited the infected NIAB plot, but had not received any other reports from farms of yellow rust being found, the company’s Ron Granger confirmed.

Agronomists around the country also report clean crops of Solstice. “There’s quite a bit of Solstice grown down here in Essex and it’s all looking very clean, albeit after robust fungicide programmes. There’s no sign of yellow rust at all,” said Graham Brooks of Prime Agriculture.

Steve Cook of Hampshire Arable Systems agreed. “We wouldn’t normally see it in this area and, even if it was coming in at this time of the year so close to harvest, we wouldn’t be worried. We’re not getting rust weather at the moment either.”

Solstice is the leading Group 1 bread-making variety, accounting for more than 10% of this year’s wheat plantings, and it is expected to take the same area next season.

Known for its susceptibility to mildew, brown rust and eyespot, its yellow rust resistance has always been seen as a strength.

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