Plant breeders and agrochemical groups were eager to show off new improved varieties and pesticides at the Cereals 2017 event in Lincolnshire – with the aim of helping growers face a likely future fall in farm subsidies.
New cereal and oilseed rape varieties could offer growers the chance to cut costs as farm payments are under pressure with Britain set to leave European Union.
Seed companies were focusing on new varieties with higher yields, better marketability and good disease resistance to give growers a helping hand.
Les Daubney, marketing director of breeders Limagrain UK, said the company is looking to add something extra to new varieties, such as better septoria disease resistance, as with its winter wheat, Sundance.
“With high risk varieties, growers need to use top-of-the range products and timing is critical, whereas with better resistance comes more flexibility and the possibility of cutting costs,” he says.
Sundance has the highest resistance to wheat’s most yield-sapping disease on the AHDB Recommended List, and it could offer growers the change to use just one SDHI fungicide rather than two and so help trim costs.
The variety has the highest resistance rating of septoria at 7.3, ahead of the next best Siskin at 6.8, and there is enough seed this autumn to drill 2-3% of the certified seed market.
Two of the group’s oilseed rape varieties Architect and Annalise offer resistance to turnip yellows virus meaning that using an autumn insecticide to control virus-carrying aphids in the autumn is redundant.
Both come up for AHDB recommendation this autumn with reasonable quantities of the hybrid Architect available to drill this autumn.
Fellow plant breeder KWS stressed that growers need varieties which can add value, give a high yield and have a good agronomic package.
“Growers want varieties with more than just higher yields. They want ones which they can easily sell, are worth more and have no obvious weakness,” said KWS managing director Andrew Newby.
The group’s variety, Kerrin, is available this autumn and has the joint highest yield on the Recommended List, is even more consistent than one of its parent Santiago and is expected to take 7% of the seed market this autumn.
Its breadmaking variety, Zyatt, is the highest yield milling wheat with the second highest protein content behind Crusoe, and could take share away from the runway miller’s favourite Skyfall this autumn.
The group is also offering a German elite or “E” milling wheat Montana with a price premium of up to £25/t over other milling wheats, and it expects over 100 growers will be drilling the variety this autumn rather than 26 this season.
Skyfall breeder RAGT has a new feed wheat variety Gravity coming up for recommendation this year with a yield 2% higher than the current top yielders.
Simon Howell, group UK managing director, said as milling price premiums have narrowed to £5-8/t from £25-30/t a few years ago some growers are turning their attention to feed wheats.
“With the pressure on milling wheat premiums growers are looking back to high yielding feed varieties,” he said.
The variety has a good specific weight above 76kg/hl with good yellow rust resistance and an average septoria resistance score.
The world’s biggest agrochemicals group, Syngenta, has the first wheat seed treatment with an SDHI fungicide on offer this autumn plus two new high-yielding feed wheat varieties and a new hybrid winter barley.
Gary Mills-Thomas, managing director of Syngenta UK and Ireland, said the group had a number of products to help growers improve productivity.
“We are looking at how we can help farmers to lift output in terms of new products, better spray applications and the better use of data,” he said.
The group’s new wheat seed treatment Vibrance Duo, which contains the new SDHI sedaxane plus an older fungicide, fludioxonil, is said to improve rooting and therefore yield.
“It will be an advantage in dry conditions and with late drilling, as it produces plants which are more robust,” Mr Mills-Thomas added.
The new seed dressing, costing about £20/ha, will be more expensive than the group’s single-purpose Beret treatment, but offers advantages in rooting and disease control.
The group’s two new feed wheat varieties Shabras and Savello will be widely available this autumn as will its new hybrid winter barley Sunningdale. All three varieties are new entrants to the current Recommended List.
Hard-milling Shabras is the joint top yielder, while Savello is the highest-yielding soft-milling feed wheat in the northern region and so could be of interest to the Scottish distillers.
New hybrid winter barley Sunningdale is slightly earlier to mature than stablemate Bazooka, and could be attractive to growers in northern England and Scotland.
Another agrochemical giant Bayer has a new blackgrass herbicide in the pipeline along with new products for potatoes and sugar beet.
“With likely lower subsidies growers will need to become more efficient and we hope to be the go-to company in term of advice,” said Mike Muncey, managing director of Bayer Crop Science UK.
The group has an improved version of its Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) blackgrass herbicide for use this spring which gives 10% better control of the grassweed and is said to be the best post-emergence product to control bromes.
This product, Monolith, takes one of the two components of Atlantis, mesosulfuron, and adds propoxycarbazone, which has good contact activity and some residual action against the grassweed.
In addition, Bayer hopes to complete its takeover of Monsanto by the end of this year and this will give it a much bigger footprint and offering of oilseed rape varieties in the UK.
Dow AgroSciences, which is in the process of merging with fellow American group DuPont, said its focus is very much on Europe for its array of new products.
John Humphreys, UK and Ireland managing director, said its focus is very much on Europe especially for its new herbicide and new fungicide products.
“Two of our big blockbuster new products are designed for Europe,” said Mr Humphreys.
These include the Arylex family of herbicides (halauxifen) which was first launched as Pixxaro in a mix with fluroxypyr in 2016 and then as Zypar in 2017 mixed with florasulam. A new fungicide, Inatreq, which has a novel mode of action, is due to be launched in 2019.
Ed Ford who farms 600ha in Essex said he had used Zypar this spring and was pleased by its effectiveness and timing flexibility.
He had been reluctant to invest too much in his winter wheat due to a very dry spring, and only applied Zypar with his T2 fungicide spray on 19 May.
After the herbicide spray, cleavers started to wilt after 48 hours and it also gave good control of cranesbill, he added.
- All the speakers talked to Farmers Weekly at Cereals 2017, which was near the Lincolnshire village of Boothby Graffoe, just south of Lincoln.