Winter wheat offers disease and virus resistance

After this season’s high disease pressure, a new winter wheat with strong resistance scores, plus immunity to two key pests, could prove a popular choice this autumn.

RAGT’s Goldfinch has been attracting plenty of interest among growers up and down the country this season, according to RAGT managing director Lee Bennett.

See also: Why growing milling wheat is reducing risk for Sentry

Speaking at a recent open day at RAGT Seeds’ UK headquarters near Ickleton, he said: “Goldfinch’s impressive disease resistance scores have helped it stand out in trials in a difficult year.

“Resistance to both barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) and orange wheat blossom midge (OWBM), a first for a potential breadmaking wheat in the UK, has certainly added to the interest.”

Goldfinch scores a 9 for yellow and brown rust, a 7 for Septoria tritici and an 8 for mildew, on a scale of 1 to 9, with 9 being the most resistant.

The untreated plots at RAGT’s trial site seemed to confirm these credentials (see picture).

This, and its dual resistance to insect pests, will help simplify crop management, and offers growers the chance to claim £45/ha under the Sustainable Farming Incentive no-insecticide use (IPM4) payment of £45/ha, Lee added.


He described Goldfinch as being very responsive to plant growth regulators, with a 1% lodging rating when treated.

He estimates its maturity ranking as +1 (when compared with the Skyfall benchmark), so very similar to that of Crusoe.

It can be drilled at the farm standard seed rate, plus 5-10%, from the second week of September until the end of November and grows best on medium to heavy soils.

Yield is slightly lower than other varieties in the absence of BYDV, but the variety, like RAGT’s other BYDV-resistant wheats, outperforms conventional varieties when the disease strikes, Lee said.

Goldfinch’s grain quality characteristics are very similar to Skyfall in all aspects. 

“Milling buybacks are available from millers attracted by its high quality and its environmental credentials,” he added.

Goldfinch, an AHDB Recommended List candidate variety, is up for recommendation this autumn. Given the interest, RAGT has accelerated seed production and some C2 seed will be available this autumn.

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